Students visit research buoy in Lake Michigan

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A group of Grand Valley student researchers traveled seven miles off the coast of Lake Michigan July 18 to visit the Offshore Wind Assessment research buoy.

The students are helping to analyze data collected from the buoy to determine the amount of power that could be created if wind turbines were installed in Lake Michigan. The study is led by Grand Valley’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center.

“It was a great opportunity for the students to inspect the operating systems they are getting data from, and to experience real field work that scientists and their support teams engage in,” said Arn Boezaart, director of MAREC.

Boezaart said students collected the computer cards that have been capturing data points since the buoy deployed off the coast of the Muskegon Channel in April.

This season is the third and final research season of the Offshore Wind Assessment.

The students are Tyson Spoelma, an undergraduate student majoring in statistics; Aaron Clark, a graduate student majoring in biostatistics; and Divya Vemula, a graduate student majoring in computer information systems.

About the Offshore Wind Assessment project

The primary objective of the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Assessment project is to gain a better understanding of offshore wind characteristics and dynamics, as well as potential wind energy. Other related physical, biological and environmental characteristics related to Great Lakes wind have been evaluated, including water quality characteristics, the water and air boundary layer, and bird and bat activity. Data collected will be used by NOAA’s National Weather Service in preparation of its marine forecasts.

About the WindSentinel research buoy
The research buoy, one of two such research platforms in the world, is a six-ton, 20-by-10 foot boat-shaped structure that can measure wind characteristics up to 175 meters above the water using advanced laser pulse and Doppler wind sensing technology in remote locations. It was constructed by AXYS Technologies of British Columbia, and is equipped with a Vindicator laser wind sensor manufactured by Catch the Wind Inc. of Virginia.