February 14, 2023

PNNL Successfully Deploys Floating Data Collection Buoy in Hawai’i

Buoy investigating weather, wind, and wave conditions off the island of O’ahu

buoy on blue water

A research buoy managed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was deployed December 1, 2022, 15 miles off the coast of O’ahu, Hawai’i.

(Photo: AXYS Services, Inc.)

As part of a collaboration between wind energy experts at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Department of Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office’s (WETO’s) floating scientific research buoy has been stationed approximately 15 miles east of O’ahu to collect accurate offshore wind resource, meteorological, and oceanographic data in Hawai’i.

Video: AXYS Services, Inc.

The buoy, which was deployed on December 1, 2022, is stationed in 800 meters—or 2,600 feet—of water. The buoy has begun using its multitude of instruments to measure and collect data on wind speed and direction up to 250 meters above the water’s surface; ocean current down to 200 meters below the surface; wave spectrum; air temperature, relative humidity, and pressure; sea surface temperatures and conductivity; and solar radiation.

The data collected by the buoy is available through the PNNL-managed Wind Data Hub in real time. The information gathered by this buoy could have many uses, including allowing scientists to compare wind model predictions with actual data.

The buoy off Hawai’i is one of two research buoys managed by PNNL. It has been deployed several times since 2014 to gather data along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. The buoy was reconditioned and received some upgrades after being collected from its previous deployment off the coast of California. The buoy now has two onboard cameras, an independent power supply for the GPS and navigation lights, and a new backup generator.

Funding for the buoy and its deployment in Hawai’i was provided by WETO and BOEM. PNNL will publish a report of the data collected by the buoy after the mission has been completed.