Offshore research facility to test technology accuracy


The Department of Energy is launching a research facility at the Chesapeake Light Tower, located in open water 13 miles east of Virginia Beach.

Part of an offshore wind farm off of England's south east coast. (Credit: Nuon via Flickr)

At first it might seem like a strange location -- on the water in the middle of nowhere. But not when the intent is testing the potential of offshore winds and underwater ocean energy.

Research at the Reference Facility for Offshore Renewable Energy (REFORE) will help verify technologies that can collect reliable data, putting to rest questions about the accuracy of offshore data.

The technology will feature devices incorporating LIDAR (light detection and ranging) placed on buoys in the ocean to measure offshore wind speeds, strength and direction by emitting light, and observing when and how some of that light is reflected off of tiny bits of dust, sea spray or other particles. To enhance the accuracy of the LIDAR, the devices will be placed both on buoys floating near the facility and also on the facility itself in order to determine the buoy-based technology's accuracy.

Scientists are likely to start research at the facility in 2015.

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