The eOLOS buoy is moved into position by a tug boat

LIDAR system to open Mediterranean to wind farms

A novel wind and wave measurement system launched today may open up the Mediterranean to wind farms.

The Neptune system, which begun to operate today at the Petroleum Bridge in Badalona, Spain, consists of an eOLOS buoy for taking measurements and NEPTool – a high resolution software tool that predicts wind speed, sea currents and waves in the short and long term.

Current forecasting models can produce acceptable results for sea areas that do not have complex oceanographic or meteorological phenomena, such as the North Sea, where there are already wind farms installed and observational databases are available, but these models are not directly applicable to the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Spain.

This prompted KIC InnoEnergy, a consortium of universities and private firms, to create a system to gather the accurate and detailed information about winds, waves and currents at an exact location needed in the early stages of planning a wind farm.

Project’s director, Frieder Schuon, the head of the AERO group at the Institute for Energy Research of Catalonia, says “It will allow us to measure the resources and conditions at sea with greater precision and at a lower cost. Greater precision means less financial risk in offshore projects."

The eOLOS buoy can measure wind conditions, waves and currents at any marine location, regardless of the depth.

It is equipped with sensors for measuring currents and waves and a computer system with LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology to measure wind speeds at different heights above the sea surface.

The system can measure vertical wind profiles that reach heights of over 200 metres above sea level, thereby avoiding the need for meteorological towers anchored to the seabed or floating towers at a cost of up to 10 times more than the developed solution.

The buoy was designed and developed at the Maritime Engineering Laboratory of the UPC Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and the UPC’s Remote Sensing Research Group and the University of Stuttgart collaborated in checking its proper operation.

The NEPTool software analyses and validates the measurements taken by the buoy to provide short and medium-term estimates of winds, currents and waves by integrated simulation of atmospheric and ocean conditions and was developed by the Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology, UPC and the UPC spin-off SIMO.

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