UVic News – University of Victoria

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Weighing 5500 kg, a locally designed and manufactured buoy will be the first of its kind in BC waters to relay rich offshore wind data. The buoy is part of a unique University of Victoria project to help remote coastal communities in British Columbia replace or reduce their diesel needs by harnessing wind power from the sea. It will be deployed in November near Trial Island.

Today, off-grid communities tend to rely heavily on diesel power for their energy needs. This project adds a future option to use renewable energy sources, such as wind, to meet electrical needs.

The highly personalized buoy, measuring six meters long by three meters wide and nine meters high and equipped with a wind turbine and a 3D laser scanning system, introduces an innovative process of data collection in the waters of Colombia -British. Over a period of approximately six months, the buoy will use meteorological and oceanographic sensors to continuously collect and transmit live data on wind speed and behavior to researchers. The data is essential to help fill a significant knowledge gap that has prevented the wider use of offshore wind power produced by floating turbines, says Brad Buckham. The buoy is a project of the UVic Pacific Regional Institute for the Discovery of Marine Energy (PRIMED), a laboratory led by Buckham and his fellow mechanical engineering researcher Curran Crawford.

While onshore wind turbines still represent a small percentage of global energy needs, they have become an increasingly popular renewable energy source, Buckham explains. In contrast, wind power produced by turbines located in the ocean has not been harnessed to the same extent, mainly due to the lack of data needed by industry to develop precise, certifiable and insurable technologies. “This buoy will be in place for an extended period of time as part of a data collection campaign in an attempt to support a floating offshore wind industry,” Buckham said.

Clean energy projects like this reflect UVic’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. In particular, the UVic wind buoy project aligns with UN SDG Goal 7 – ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.

The PRIMED research team entrusted AXYS Technologies, based in Sidney, with the construction of the buoy. Later this month, a tugboat will pull a barge carrying the wind buoy through the waters near Oak Bay, where the device will be deployed, a few hundred meters southwest of Trial Island.

“The group has been working on this for several years, so everyone is excited to see the buoy deployed and start seeing the data,” says researcher and deployment manager Chloe Immonen, who joined the project in 2019.

Immonen says the research conducted with the buoy near Trial Island will not only benefit remote communities hoping to move away from diesel, but will also contribute to a better overall understanding of how wind can be harnessed to create sustainable energy.

This research was funded through UVic’s Canada-Pacific Ocean Robotic Observation Facility (C-PROOF), a project funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the BC Knowledge Development Fund to strengthen the ocean observing capacity off the coast of British Columbia. PRIMED was created with the support of Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan).

Click here for a backgrounder

A media kit containing a graphic image of the wind buoy is available on Dropbox.

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Curran Crawford (PRIMED lab and mechanical engineering department) at 250-721-7960 or curranc@uvic.ca

Anne Tolson (Computer Engineering and Communications) at 250-812-6309 or engrcomm@uvic.ca

Robyn Quinn (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-415-7020 or scomm@uvic.ca


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