GSOE Deploys State-of-the-Art Research Buoy off New Jersey, USA
Garden State Offshore Energy (GSOE) this week successfully deployed a state-of-the-art offshore research buoy 23 miles off of the coast of Atlantic City. The 25-ton buoy, equipped with sophisticated meteorological measurement devices, will measure atmospheric and sea conditions offshore for up to two years in support of GSOE’s evaluation of a potential offshore wind farm to serve New Jersey.
The cutting-edge buoy, called the NJORD (New Jersey Offshore Research Device), was developed by GSOE, a joint venture established between Deepwater Wind and PSEG Global to develop offshore wind farms off the New Jersey coast, and built by SeaRoc, a marine engineering firm based in the United Kingdom. The project is partially funded by a $3 million grant from the State of New Jersey to GSOE. “The NJORD buoy is an important advance for the offshore wind industry because it provides a cost-efficient method to gather vital data at sites located 20 or more miles offshore,” said Deepwater Wind President Chris van Beek, the NJORD project manager.
The NJORD is much less costly to deploy than a traditional, fixed meteorological mast and far more flexible since it’s not anchored permanently to the ocean floor like traditional met masts deployed by other developers.
Prior to its deployment off of New Jersey, the NJORD buoy was deployed off of the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island for an eight-week validation period. During validation, the results of the wind-measuring LIDAR mounted on the buoy were compared to the results from a fixed met mast located on land less than a mile away on Block Island. The correlation between the two wind measuring devices was over 99 percent, confirming that the buoy-based LIDAR mounted on the NJORD is just as reliable in measuring wind speeds as traditional met mast-based equipment.
“GSOE is pleased with the successful deployment of the NJORD and looks forward to using this new but now demonstrated technology for assessing the wind resource off the coast of New Jersey,” said Rob Gibbs, Vice President of GSOE. “This project is a prime example of how private/public efforts can benefit emerging industries, particularly those in the renewable energy sector. We thank the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for providing thoughtful and creative leadership during our efforts to build and deploy the NJORD.”
The steel buoy is located in 90-foot water depths, 23 miles east of Atlantic City. A barge-based crane lifted the buoy into the water, where divers secured it to a 230-ton clump weight on the sea floor by four tethers made of steel cables. Work crews and vessels from New Jersey helped to install the NJORD, along with a team from Rhode Island.
While the buoy is about 130 feet tall from its top to the end of its steel cable tethers, only 40 feet is visible above the water line. A platform at the top of the buoy houses the sophisticated suite of electronics that will monitor atmospheric and sea conditions. Powered by three small wind turbines, a solar panel array and a battery pack, the equipment suite includes a high-tech LIDAR unit that uses laser beams to measure wind speeds and a satellite communication system that transfers real time data to GSOE’s offices.
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and the United States Coast Guard reviewed and approved plans for the deployment of the buoy.
Press release, November 16, 2012; Image: SeaRoc