Program

Lidar Buoy Program

Facilitating meteorological and oceanographic data collection using validated methods to support the U.S. offshore wind industry

Buoys

PNNL administers research buoys to capture wind measurements off the nation's coasts.

Ocean Tech Services, LLC and PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) manages two lidar buoys for offshore wind resource characterization on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO). WETO oversees a large portion of the nation’s offshore wind research to advance the scientific understanding of offshore wind and help industry develop robust offshore wind plant technology.  The buoys are part of PNNL's wind energy portfolio.

Specifications

Using atmospheric and oceanographic measurement capabilities, the lidar buoys capture data, such as wind speed and direction at multiple heights using wind profiling lidar, air and sea surface temperatures, ocean current speeds and directions, and wave heights and directions.

The centerpiece of each buoy is a wind profiling lidar that provides wind measurements up to 250 meters above the sea surface—where the winds are most relevant to offshore turbines. The offshore lidars received an independent performance validation documenting that they received Stage 2 (pre-commercial) certification in compliance with the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator Roadmap for Commercial Acceptance of Floating Lidar Technology.

History 

The lidar buoys were deployed off the coasts of Virginia, New Jersey, and California to support U.S. offshore wind development. Since their procurement in 2014, the buoys have undergone performance testing, data and measurement system upgrades, and a lidar verification campaign.

Timeline showing buoy deployments

Offshore Wind

More information

General information about the buoys is available below: