Catch the Wind Ltd. of Virginia has just announced that its new Vindicator laser wind sensor has been deployed on a specialized buoy for a field test off Race Rocks Island in British Columbia. If successful, the laser sensor would be part of the world’s first buoy-based wind power assessment system, which could shave millions off the cost of assessing conditions at potential sites for offshore wind turbines.
Conventional site assessments for large scale wind farms are done through the construction of a permanent offshore tower, which can cost up to $10 million. Catch the Wind’s movable buoy-based system, called the WindSentinel, could virtually eliminate that expense and help open up sustainable offshore wind power to small communities, military bases, and other modestly scaled projects.
Catch the Wind and Buoy-Based Systems
Catch the Wind will collect data from the Vindicator laser senor on the WindSentinel buoy and compare it with data from a stationary Vindicator located nearby on Race Rocks Island, with the goal of showing that the accuracy of laser sensors on an unstable, floating platform such as a buoy matches that of a fixed site. The WindSentinel was developed with AXYS Technologies, a Canadian company that specializes in remote marine monitoring systems.
Buoys vs. Platforms for Wind and Wave Power
Catch the Wind and AXYS are among a number of companies exploring the potential of small floating platforms or buoy-based systems as a faster, far less expensive alternative to permanent platforms for harvesting wave power as well as offshore wind power. To name just a few, Ocean Power Technologies has been testing its PowerBuoy at a U.S. Marines base in Hawaii, Swell Fuel has been seeking ways to integrate its buoy-based wave power generators with coral reef rehabilitation efforts, SRI International successfully completed a small-scale wave power test in Monterey Bay, the U.S. Department of Energy gave a grant to Principle Power to develop wave power capability for its floating wind turbine platform, and the ever-innovative Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is aggressively pursuing research companies that can transform buoys into high-efficiency floating ocean energy scavengers.
Image: phault on flickr.com.
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