US scientists deploy offshore wind lidar off Hawaii

US scientists have deployed a lidar buoy off the coast of Hawaii to collect weather, wind and wave data, potentially paving the way for floating offshore wind turbines to be installed.

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), operated by the US Department of Energy, and the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management have deployed a floating scientific research buoy located about 24km east of Hawaii’s most populous island, Oahu. 

The buoy, which was deployed on 1 December, 2022, is stationed in waters 800 metres deep.

The data already being collected include: wind speed and direction up to 250 metres above the water’s surface; ocean current down to 200 metres below the surface; wave spectrum; air temperature, relative humidity and pressure; sea surface temperatures and conductivity; and solar radiation.

Previously stationed off the coast of California, the buoy has two onboard cameras, an independent power supply for the global positioning system (GPS) and navigation lights, and a new backup generator. 

The data is publicly available in real time through the PNNL’s wind data hub, and could be used by researchers, public agencies, non-profit organisations and private companies, a PNNL spokesman advised.

More than 1.2GW of floating offshore wind is planned in the deep waters off Hawaii, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly.

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