This is an excerpt from the Fourth Quarter 2012 edition of the Wind Program R&D Newsletter.

Virginia Beach, Virginia — A new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research facility could help bring the United States closer to generating power from the winds and waters along America's coasts and help alleviate a major hurdle for offshore wind and ocean power development. One of the hurdles currently impeding the development of the nation's offshore wind is a shortage of critical data on the nature of offshore wind resources and the ocean environment.

Current plans are for the Reference Facility for Offshore Renewable Energy (RFORE) to be located at the Chesapeake Light Tower, which is about 13 miles off the Virginia Coast. The facility will help address the shortage of offshore wind data by testing technologies that determine the power-generating potential of offshore winds and waters.

Will Shaw, an atmospheric scientist for DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), described plans for the new facility at the 93rd American Meteorological Society Meeting January 6-10, 2013, in Austin, Texas.  PNNL and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will work with DOE headquarters to establish the RFORE. NREL will be the lead laboratory for the repair, upgrade, and operation of the facility. Planned upgrades include installation of a meteorological tower and a data acquisition system that will record and deliver data sets to shore. PNNL will support DOE in developing the RFORE research agenda, instrumentation specs, and a data management system. Data collected from the RFORE will be made available to user groups such as developers, researchers, and the offshore wind and marine and hydrokinetic industries. DOE will also convene a science advisory board for independent expert advice on the research agenda and RFORE capabilities.

To read more about the RFORE, see A New Point of Reference for Offshore Energy Development.