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Integrated Assessment of Feasibility and Deployment of Offshore Wind Technologies in the Great Lakes



            The principal purpose of this project is to advance the body of knowledge that will allow successful offshore commercial wind energy development on the Great Lakes. The project will result in the permitting and installation of the first offshore wind power assessment meteorological (MET) facilities in Michigan’s Great Lakes. In addition, it will provide the opportunity for deployment of LIDAR or similar technology and other important research related to the deployment of offshore wind technologies incorporating the siting, permitting, and public participation guidelines established by the Michigan Great Lakes Wind Council (GLOW Council). The project will create opportunities for public dialogue and community education about offshore wind resource management and will assist in efforts to foster Great Lakes wind resource utilization consistent with the focus of the GLOW Council. The wind resource and research data, along with the permitting, siting, and deployment of MET buoy facilities will help attract offshore wind energy investors and developers.

            The 3-year project features collaborative research between Grand Valley State University and the University of Michigan and collaboration between the states of Michigan and Wisconsin through funding assistance from We Energies.The wind assessment research is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Michigan Public Service Commission, We Energies of Wisconsin and the Sierra Club.

It is important to note that the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG) has proposed to establish and lead a broader multi-Great Lakes collaborative effort that will further expand the state’s offshore wind assessment research to include Lakes Huron and Lake Erie. The new Great Lakes Wind Assessment Collaborative being organized by DELEG has received preliminary letters of commitment from Michigan’s two major utilities, Consumers Energy and DTE Energy, for a combined amount of $2,000,000. These funds will be used in partnership with DELEG to create a more comprehensive Great Lakes wind assessment effort.  The State of Michigan is pursuing additional funding partners to support wind assessment work on Lake Michigan as well as lakes Huron and Erie that will supplement the efforts of the GVSU/UofM project.   

Desk-top studies and onshore research will begin January 2011 in conjunction with the academic schedule at partnering universities. It is projected that equipment deployment and full-scale offshore field studies and data collection will be in place by June 2011. During the 3-year project period, researchers expect to collect essential new data from the offshore buoy, from on-shore fixed-towers near the shoreline (the Michigan Tall Towers project) and from additional offshore and shore based sources to be determined (discussions underway with NOAA).           

Summary of Partnership Goals and Objectives

            The project goal is to advance the deployment of offshore commercial wind energy development on the Great Lakes by collecting and analyzing data that is essential to wind industry investment decision-making. Mutually beneficial objectives of the collaborators include: deploying equipment to gather year-around and extended-season offshore wind data; conducting research related to the unique engineering and environmental conditions found in the Great Lakes; and performing necessary studies to advance the deployment of offshore wind technologies.

Sierra Club
We Energies
Grand Valley State University - Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC)
Research Areas
Energy Systems