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Research buoy testing winds in the middle of Lake Michigan

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
The eight-ton research platform was lowered into Muskegon Lake Friday afternoon. It'll head out into Lake Michigan next week.

An eight ton research buoy is out gathering wind data in Lake Michigan. The $1.3 million buoy launched in Muskegon Friday will collect detailed wind data over the next ten years.

Chris Hart is an Offshore Wind Manager at the U.S. Department of Energy.  He says there’s only three of these high tech bouys in the world. This was the first one launched in the United States. He says the data will be more detailed than anything they have now.

“We can help developers and communities that are interested in off shore wind find where the best winds are and there’s the highest probability of economic success for projects,” Hart said.

The research buoy will collect wind data over the next ten years. Since the federal government paid for the buoy and Grand Valley State University is operating it – that data will become public.

Arn Boezaart heads GVSU’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon. He says the center, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan will use the data for researching wind potential in the Great Lakes.

“We’re asking ‘will we ultimately use renewable wind energy on the Great Lakes?’ And if so, is the middle of the lakes one place to do it to perhaps sort of side-step the other public concerns and public perception issues,” Boezaart said.

Officials in Muskegon launched the $1.3 million dollar buoy Friday. It’s the first buoy launched in the country that collects such detailed data. The buoy is expected to last ten years. 

There are no immediate plans for an offshore wind farm in Lake Michigan yet.

Lindsey Smith is Michigan Radio’s investigative reporter. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor and West Michigan Reporter.
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