Photo courtesy of Deepwater Wind.
By Janelle Clausen
Assistant Arts and Features Editor
Stony Brook University’s collaboration with Deepwater Wind and AWS Truepower may help deliver offshore wind power to Long Island.
Deepwater Wind, a developer of renewable offshore wind-power projects, is providing $400,000 worth of equipment in research funding to Stony Brook University to assist in ongoing atmospheric research. This features two Light Detecting and Radar, or LiDAR, systems at the Southampton campus and Block Island, which use light to detect wind speeds and variation up to 150 meters above the surface. AWS Truepower, an energy consultant, is also helping with the studies.
Combined with the university’s ongoing flights mapping the region, the research will improve current regional wind maps, Brian Colle, professor of atmospheric science at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, said. This will lead to better decisions about offshore wind resources and greater ability to forecast ocean winds, Colle added.
“Overall, this is providing one of the most comprehensive datasets to understand the winds over the ocean,” Colle said in an email. Most of the current wind input for research maps has come from numerical models and have errors, he added, and need improvement.
So far, the research has found reverse profiles, “with strong winds near the surface and weaker winds” at higher elevations, Colle noted.
“Atmospheric models have difficulty predicting these wind profiles,” Colle said.
Stony Brook University’s ongoing research about offshore wind will assist in the development of Deepwater ONE, Deepwater Wind and AWS Truepower’s 210 MW wind farm 30 miles off the coast of Montauk scheduled to be complete by 2018. Stony Brook was selected for its reputation in the sciences and its ideal location.
The wind farm will provide energy to 120,000 homes and offer several hundred jobs during the construction phase, according to Deepwater Wind Vice President Clint Plummer. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates there will be 43,000 jobs related to offshore wind nationwide by 2030.
Europe, by contrast, has already invested decades and billions of dollars in offshore wind development.
Plummer said that offshore wind farms generally operate at a higher capacity than their onshore counterparts, meaning they better utilize the wind to provide more energy. The company’s Block Island wind farm currently under construction, for example, is expected to operate in the high forties while onshore wind farms are in the thirties.
“The winds offshore are stronger, they’re more consistent and they deliver energy when Long Island needs it the most: during the middle of the day and during the early evening hours,” Plummer said. “So because of that, we’re actually able to deliver proportionally more energy than with an onshore wind farm.”
This project also provides a healthier alternative, reducing two million tons of carbon dioxide and displacing local emissions while decreasing the risk of respiratory problems like asthma, Plummer added.
“Offshore can deliver energy to Long Island at the same power as building a fossil fire plant or the cost of building a new solar energy facility there,” Plummer said.
While the Block Island farm, a 30 MW farm, required approval from around 11 agencies, the Deepwater ONE required many more, Plummer said. It took several years to gain approval from both state and federal authorities for this project.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said that Deepwater Wind and AWS Truepower were both developers of Deepwater ONE. Deepwater ONE is solely Deepwater Wind’s project and AWS Truepower is a research consultant assisting in the studies.