Partners have begun testing tools to provide insight on how much energy potential South Carolina’s offshore winds offer. The goal is the deployment of offshore wind energy to diversify South Carolina’s energy resources and significantly increase the region’s energy independence. This includes the Savannah River National Laboratory (SNRL), the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI) and their partners.
SRNL, CURI and partners – utility provider Santee Cooper, Clemson University’s S.C. Institute for Energy Studies, Coastal Carolina University, Center for Hydrogen Research, and the U.S. Coast Guard – make up the South Carolina Consortium for offshore wind. This consortium will study South Carolina’s coastal winds to determine the development of the state’s first offshore wind farm.
The eastern seaboard has a large untapped supply of wind energy currently one of the most cost effective renewable energy sources. It has been estimated that South Carolina alone could produce up to 3.5 GW of power from its coastal and offshore wind resources using existing turbine technology. Capturing less than 3 % of this potential would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 to 2.5M tons per year and up to 16K tons of SO2 emissions.
Before the region can make use of this wind, it is necessary to find out its potential as a cost-effective, practical energy source.
In early August, SRNL, CURI and their partners installed Second Wind’s Triton Sonic Wind Profiler, which uses sound detection and ranging (SODAR) equipment, on an offshore Coast Guard platform to study SODAR’s potential as an offshore wind measurement tool. SODAR measures wind movement by detecting its effect on sound waves, thereby providing wind measurements at a greater range of altitudes than traditional meteorological towers. The instrument can measure wind speed, direction, and other characteristics at heights extending up to 200M, compared to a typical 60-M meteorological tower.
“The use of SODAR could reduce the cost of offshore wind energy exploration, significantly improve offshore wind energy forecasts, and accelerate offshore wind energy development,” says Ralph Nichols, who leads SRNL’s wind initiatives.
Although SODAR has been in use for other atmospheric measurements for several years, the SRNL-CURI project is the first use of remote sensing to measure wind offshore on the Atlantic seaboard. It is also the first offshore use of Second Wind’s Triton.
On the platform, the team will test and evaluate SODAR’s compatibility with ocean conditions. They will also develop calculations to correct for movement caused by ocean waves, and study the impact of the ocean’s acoustic environment on the station’s operation. Data will be collected from the platform for one year to better understand the wind characteristics along the transitional area from offshore to the coast.
Prior to installation on the offshore platform, the SODAR equipment was tested at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., then on an island near Georgetown. Those tests confirmed that the SODAR station’s performance was equivalent to traditional anemometers and established a coastline reference point for the offshore test site.
Funding for the project came from a grant by the S.C. Energy Office.
As part of this project, the partners have also installed small wind turbines at five high schools and the Center for Hydrogen Research in Aiken, where much of SRNL’s energy research and development is located. These are intended as permanent installations to educate communities about wind power, and understand their concerns regarding its use.
Filed Under: News