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Santee Cooper, Coastal Carolina University and the South Carolina Energy Office plan to launch weather buoys that will measure wind off the coast of Georgetown and Little River in South Carolina.

Six buoys and two land-based stations will measure wind speed, direction and frequency at stations up to six miles out into the ocean. Buoy deployment could begin in mid-March, depending on weather conditions.

The buoy deployment will be followed by South Carolina utility Santee Cooper's installation of an offshore platform in about six months, near one of the buoy paths. Coastal Carolina researchers, working closely with counterparts at North Carolina State University, will evaluate the buoy data to help pinpoint the best location for the platform, which will measure upper-level winds that are more similar to those a wind turbine would encounter. The offshore wind platform is expected to gather data for at least a year.

Costs associated with the buoy project are being paid by Santee Cooper and by a U.S. Department of Energy grant administered by the South Carolina Energy Office. Specifically, the grant money is helping fund Coastal Carolina's role in the buoy research. Santee Cooper will pay for the platform.

The offshore project is the latest in a series of wind research initiatives involving several organizations in South Carolina. In addition to the partners in this offshore project, stakeholders include Clemson University, the Savannah River National Laboratory, the University of South Carolina's Baruch Research Institute and EcoEnergy LLC.

The projects will gather data for at least the next 18 months. Meanwhile, a group of state stakeholders will begin considering how to permit offshore wind turbines, and a separate group will be considering transmission needs. Federal permitting is also under development. This new research will continue to advance South Carolina's wind energy deliberations while these other significant issues are tackled.

SOURCE: Santee Cooper

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