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SBU collaborates on offshore wind energy research initiative

The Deepwater ONE project is a proposed offshore wind farm to be built 30 miles off the Montauk coast. (PHOTO CREDIT : MARIUSZ PAŹDZIORA)
The Deepwater ONE project is a proposed offshore wind farm to be built 30 miles off the Montauk coast. (PHOTO CREDIT : MARIUSZ PAŹDZIORA)

Stony Brook University is involved in a collaborative study of offshore wind resources with the Rhode Island-based offshore wind and transmission developer Deepwater Wind and AWS Truepower, a renewable energy consultant in Albany, N.Y.

In October 2013, the Long Island Power Authority requested project proposals for newer and cleaner resources. In response to those requests, Deepwater Wind proposed the Deepwater ONE project, a 210 MW offshore wind farm 30 miles off the coast of Montauk.

The data produced from this partnership between Stony Brook, Deepwater Wind and AWS Truepower will help to better understand the area for the proposed Deepwater ONE project.

This project will use new technology to harness ocean winds, convert the winds into clean electricity then transmit that energy to Long Island through a cable buried beneath the ocean floor.

Deepwater Wind will be providing Stony Brook with resources and funding to assist with renewable energy programs and coastal wind research in exchange for collaboration on the study.

Clinton L. Plummer, Deepwater Wind’s vice president of development, found the partnership with Stony Brook a logical choice. 

“A lot of people don’t recognize that the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences has a really strong meteorological program, and Dr. Brian Colle, who’s the principal investigator, for our project has some ongoing work related to offshore wind resources,” he said. “It was a natural collaboration given the strength of the SoMAS program and Brian Colle’s existing research.”

The United States Department of Energy has said that by the year 2030, there are expected to be 43,000 people working in the offshore wind industry on the U.S. East Coast.

“It’s not just about the jobs because offshore wind is doing a really good thing in a couple of other ways,” Plummer said. “It’s also delivering power very cost effectively to the parts of Long Island that need it the most, and it’s helping to clean up the environment—our initial project will eliminate over 2 million tons of carbon pollution every year.”

This research collaboration will increase understanding of winds off the coast of Long Island and aid Deepwater Wind in designing and predicting the productivity of the Deepwater ONE project, Plummer said.

Light detecting and Ranging systems (LiDAR) are currently being used to detect wind speed as well as direction in order to develop better knowledge of wind currents. One LiDAR unit has already been implemented at the Stony Brook Southampton campus.

Before LiDAR, tall towers equipped with instrumentation were needed for research, but they proved troublesome compared to this newer method.

“A tall tower is harder to permit, it could take two years to permit and build. LiDAR is portable, ground mounted so it’s not visible, and it can probe deeper into the atmosphere,” AWS Truepower CEO Bruce Bailey said.

The increased height of LiDAR offers an enhanced range of data collection. Bailey said the most exciting aspect of this project is “using new technology like LiDAR and to see what new information it provides. Discovering how wind conditions vary with height will be very interesting because it is relatively new data that will provide new knowledge.”

Deepwater Wind is currently working on the first U.S. offshore wind farm in Block Island, R.I. This 30 MW farm will generate over 125,000 megawatt-hours annually, which is enough to power over 17,000 homes. The Block Island project is expected to be fully operational by 2016.

The Deepwater ONE site will be larger, further from the shore and capable of producing more electricity compared to the Block Island site.

This project is on the forefront of offshore wind energy in the United States, and it can offer many solutions to problems on Long Island.

“Offshore wind technology has gotten bigger, more efficient and more cost effective at an important time when Long Island is going to need new resources of energy,” Plummer said.

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