USA: Fishermen’s Energy Places Wind Sentinel Buoy in Federal Waters
After more than a year of preparations and near-shore testing, the Fishermen’s Energy Wind Sentinel buoy was relocated from a test site near Atlantic City to an offshore area leased from the U. S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Located eleven miles east of Ocean City, NJ, this site is within the Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Area, in an area Fishermen’s Energy (“Fishermen’s”) proposed to build a 350MW windfarm.
Locating the buoy in Federal Waters required approvals from BOEM, the US Coast Guard, and the Army Corps of Engineers. “With approvals in hand, Fishermen’s Energy contracted with Northstar Marine (Clermont, NJ), to build the anchoring system and install the Wind Sentinel system.” said Stephen O’Malley, Fishermen’s Director of Metocean Assessments. “The device is now operating in 65 feet of water and transmitting environmental and meteorological data back to Fishermen’s offices to support windfarm design and development.” continued O’Malley.
The Fishermen’s Wind Sentinel is a suite of environmental monitoring sensors which are installed on a buoy platform called the NOMAD. Developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1940’s, the NOMAD has proven to be a reliable platform still used by NOAA and major oceanographic research institutions. The primary system in the Wind Sentinel is a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) wind measurement device which provides information on wind speed, direction and shear from the water surface to a height of nearly 500 feet. “These measurements provide information for energy production estimates, as well as details about the wind effects across the rotor swept area of the planned turbines” stated Chris Wissemann, CEO. “The measurements aid in blade and other equipment design.” Wissemann added.
The Fishermen’s Wind Sentinel also collects information on oceanography and wildlife. Wave and ocean current meters provide data on the forces that will impact the turbine foundations so that engineers can design the structures to withstand extreme storm events. Bird, bat, and marine mammal detection systems listen continuously for the presence of wildlife so that any potential impacts can be measured and minimized.
Supported in part by the NJ Board of Public Utilities offshore wind rebate program, Fishermen’s has installed an impressive network of environmental monitoring systems throughout the New Jersey coastal area. This equipment includes horizontally and vertically scanning LIDAR system, surface buoys, land based towers, radar systems for bird detection, and underwater microphones for detection of whales and dolphins. “This equipment is critical to understanding wind and oceanographic and environmental conditions before developing offshore windfarms” stated O’Malley. “The wind assessment program that Fishermen’s has implemented is unique and leads the industry, as it is founded on the use of LIDAR technologies to cover wide areas and high altitudes. This approach has proven to be more cost effective and of greater benefit, when compared to conventional installation of tall meteorological towers offshore which are cost prohibitive and collect data only at one location.” O’Malley added.
Working closely with vendors such as Lockheed-Martin, Garrad-Hassan, AXYS Technologies, and the Woods Hole Group, Fishermen’s is now recognized as a leader in advancing new technologies for offshore wind site assessments. As a Department of Energy grant recipient, Fishermen’s is working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other leading researchers to conduct Research & Development programs to lower the cost of building offshore windfarms, while developing systems to minimize environmental impacts.
Press release, June 06, 2013; Image: fishermensenergy