The notion is intoxicating: Capture the wind that has buffeted boaters on the Great Lakes for centuries and convert it into clean, renewable energy. But one important piece of data has been missing: We don’t know exactly how windy it is out there.
Soon, we will.
A floating research platform launched to collect data on wind speeds high above the water in the middle of Lake Michigan has begun feeding the information to researchers involved in a $3 million project.
“We’re capturing some of the very first data,” said Arnold “Arn” Boezaart, director of the Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center at Grand Valley State University in Muskegon, which is leading the research. “The wind data that we’re bringing on shore – when I brought the first data cards on shore, I felt like I was bringing gold bullion.”
The WindSentinel research platform, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, the State of Michigan, We Energies and the Sierra Club, uses laser-pulse radar technology to gather information about wind speeds at heights in excess of 500 feet above water.