A Watershed Moment: Monitoring Wind on Lake Michigan

On this week’s episode we hear from Dr. Erik Nordman, Professor of Natural Resource Management at Grand Valley State University and West Michigan Environmental Action Council Board President as he talks about a new wind monitoring buoy that will be deployed in Lake Michigan to study wind conditions, water quality, and the potential for an off-shore wind farm.

Until recently, Nordman served as principal investigator for GVSU’s West Michigan Wind Assessment  where he and his team analyzed the benefits and challenges to developing wind energy infrastructure in and around Lake Michigan.

Renewable energy is a growing sector in Michigan. Last year $78.6 million were invested in renewable energy in the state, a large chunk of which went to wind energy projects. Some of those investments came as a result of state legislation passed in 2008 requiring energy providers in the state to generate 10 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewable energy resources by 2015. According to Nordman, over 90 percent of that 10 percent energy gap will come from wind.

“Off shore wind resource over Lake Michigan and in the great lakes in general is huge, and it’s a great opportunity to sustainably harvest wind energy resources, so it could be feasible in the future to put out a wind farm in the lake and generate clean, renewable, sustainable electricity that could feed into Michigan’s electricity grid,” said Nordman.

The buoy will be placed 35 miles off-shore near the border with Wisconsin and will provide data on wind and water conditions over the middle of the lake. According to Nordman, the ecology in the middle of the lake is largely unknown and unstudied so the buoy will also be equipped with bird and bat detectors.

You can listen to the full episode of A Watershed Moment here.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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