University of Maine will next year install what it believes to be the first commercially-available floating LIDAR system validated for open ocean conditions.
Interest in floating LIDAR technology is growing as offshore wind developers seek to reduce the cost and time associated with installing conventional met masts. Belgian-based DEME Group has also developed a floating LIDAR solution.
The university is designing a buoy to house a Windcube v2 LIDAR sensor – supplied by Leosphere SAS and modified by NRG Systems. The floating LIDAR will gather wind speed data for potential deepwater wind projects and AWS Truepower will validate the data.
The project partners have developed an algorithm that corrects for the buoy’s motion on open water, and the university’s tests will seek to validate this algorithm. Initial installation for validation testing will be in a shallow harbour, in March or April, after which the device will be moved to a deepwater test site at Monhegan Island for further validation. The buoy will remain at the second site from May or June through August or September.
The $1m project received half its funds through a competitive grant from the Maine Technology Institute, which is funded by the state. Energy firm NRG provided $120,600, and the university contributed the balance from its wind research budget.
The floating LIDAR project is one of about 15 projects that make up the university’s extensive offshore wind research program. The university is also developing a roughly 20kW deepwater wind turbine that it plans to install next year.