German authorities have begun the offshore practical testing in the German Bight of an advanced LIDAR-equipped mobile measurement and data collection buoy, writes Tom Todd.

The 11m high and ca. 2.5m wide monitoring unit is the brainchild of the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems IWES. It has been laid just west of the German research platform FINO 3. Assisting in the laying operation was the 78.9m German multi-purpose workhorse Neuwerk. Stationed on nearby Heligoland, the versatile Neuwerk is a buoy layer as well as an icebreaker, emergency tug and pollution control vessel.

The BSH and the IWES developed the new buoy from its conception through to the construction of the prototype, as part of a joint research project tagged MoBo. The project has been funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) with €1.5 million.

The deployment of the new buoy now follows extensive tests in Bremerhaven’s port basin last summer. Its job is to collect meteorological and oceanographic data.

The buoy is fitted with a LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) wind measuring device which uses laser beams to detect wind levels in stages up to 250m high.

Other measuring devices are attached to the sensor chain on the bottom of the buoy. The chain extends to just above the sea bed and the devices record current at different depths, salt and oxygen content and water temperature. A landing stage placed near the buoy also measures current over the entire water column along with seabed temperature and salinity.

The BSH and IWES say the buoy can be used for continuous as well as for flexible measurement and explain that oceanographic data is needed, among other things, for selecting the best foundations for offshore wind turbines and other installations, as well as for assessing sediment transport and for the calculation of wave loads.

They note that data on average wind speeds at the hub height of wind turbines is essential for the calculation of wind yields and the design of the turbines themselves. Benefitting from this data are companies and authorities involved in planning for offshore wind energy as well as those operating warning and weather services, the BSH and IWES say.

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