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Published: 16 October 2020 16 October 2020
Offshore wind research buoys float into Californias watersTwo offshore wind research buoys managed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) were deployed off the coast of California. The pair of buoys were deployed by DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office, with this research funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). BOEM is gathering data to support decisions on potential leasing of wind energy sites off California’s coastline.
 
One buoy is stationed in approximately 625 meters of water off Humboldt County along the northern coast. The second buoy is deployed in about 1,000 meters (more than 3,280 feet) of water off Morro Bay along the central coastline. Each buoy is equipped with instrumentation to capture a suite of measurements, such as wind speed and direction at multiple heights, air and sea surface temperatures, ocean current speeds and directions, and wave heights and directions.
 
PNNL’s analysis of the buoy data will be used to validate wind models, improve the understanding of air-sea interactions, and reduce uncertainty and risk in characterising offshore wind resources. The data will be stored in the Data Archive and Portal, also managed by PNNL, where it will be publicly available to the wind research community.
 
In the spring, the northern coast buoy will likely host a PNNL-developed avian measurement system, ThermalTracker. The system consists of thermal cameras and software that uses stereo vision processing to provide three-dimensional flight data about birds and bats around wind turbines. The data from ThermalTracker—flight height, speed, and passage rates, for instance—will provide offshore wind developers with the information they need to understand avian behavior around wind technologies so they can best plan development and operations.
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