On a U.S. Coast Guard platform off the coast of Georgetown Wednesday, the state’s energy agencies began high-level testing for a new energy option for South Carolina. Investigators hope to get an empirical understanding of the potential for offshore wind energy. Angeline French, spokeswoman for the Savannah River National Laboratory, explains that SODAR (sound detection and ranging technology)measures wind movement by detecting its effect on sound waves, provides wind measurements at a much greater range of altitudes than traditional meteorological towers.
The Savannah River National Lab, the Clemson University Restoration Institute, Coastal Carolina University, Center for Hydrogen Research, the U.S. Coast Guard and Santee Cooper are among those working together to test wind energy potential.
French says SRNL and its partners believe the Eastern seaboard has one of the largest untapped supplies of wind energy in the United States and that South Carolina alone could produce up to 3.5 GW of power from its coastal and offshore wind resources using existing technology. Capturing less than 3 percent of this potential would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2 to 2.5 M tons per year and up to 16K tons of SO2 emissions.
The ultimate goal, says French is the use of offshore wind energy technology as a part of South Carolina’s energy resources. The testing being done off the coast near Georgetown is funded by the State Energy Office and results will begin to be seen in three to six months.
“This is a major step for the state in getting a better handle on what is available out there,” says French.