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Coast Guard platform tests range of wind power

Scientists recently took a key step in the quest to harness offshore wind energy along South Carolina's coast.

A sonic wind profiler tested at Savannah River National Laboratory was installed this week on a Coast Guard platform in the Atlantic Ocean near Georgetown, S.C. Using sound detecting and ranging technology, the device will measure wind velocity to explore using wind as a power source, the Augusta Chronicle newspaper reports.

"It's the first time a SODAR is being used offshore in the Atlantic seaboard region," Ralph Nichols, the lab's wind energy program manager, told the newspaper. "Testing was completed two months ago and we've moved to the next step, which was deployment offshore."

Typical monitors record wind data as much as 60 meters above the ocean's surface, but the SODAR can reach 200 meters.

Now that it has been deployed at sea, the team will test and evaluate the SODAR technology's compatibility with ocean conditions.

"We'll leave it out there for at least a year, and we'll be analyzing the data as a first step," Nichols said. "Secondly, we will make wind energy forecasts for that area and work with our partners at Coastal Carolina who have a meteorological model they have developed for offshore wind forecasting."

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