Cornell professors contribute to winning offshore wind energy alliance

Three Cornell University professors contributed to the successful proposal to lead the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium, a new $18.5 million federal endeavor to enhance the United States’ wind-energy economy and substantially decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

The public-private consortium is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and will be led by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and Stony Brook University.

“This is an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of offshore wind development in the U.S.,” said Rebecca J. Barthelmie, professor and the David Croll Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow at the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Barthelmie will be joined by Sara C. Pryor, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Lindsay Anderson, associate professor in biological and environmental engineering and a Norman R. Scott Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow. Barthelmie, Pryor and Anderson are also fellows at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future.

“The Cornell team is pleased to participate in the consortium and to bring our research and consulting experience from the development of offshore wind farms in Europe to the NSYERDA project – to ensure we continue to meet the goal of securing clean, efficient, low-cost electricity generation for the U.S.,” said Barthelmie.

Offshore wind energy is expected become a major source of affordable, renewable power for the state, particularly in the New York City metropolitan area and on Long Island, where the electric grid’s energy demand is significant, according to NYSERDA.

More than 20 years ago, Barthelmie led the measurement network for offshore wind resources and wind turbine siting at the Vindeby Offshore Wind Farm, Denmark – the world’s first such array – prior to joining Cornell. Her research was recognized by the European Wind Energy Academy in 2009.

Barthelmie and Pryor have collaborated on research projects, which includes demonstrating that higher frequency and persistence of high-power wind speeds offshore means more reliable and better energy yields for wind turbines.

Said Pryor: “Challenges remain, but the potential for the U.S. to extract carbon-free, clean energy at competitive prices from our coastal waters is enormous. The resource is many times our current total electricity demand.”

In January, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan, which will guide development of 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind energy – enough to power 1.2 million homes in the state with clean energy – by 2030. But more wind energy potential remains, as generating electricity with wind turbines located offshore from New York’s coast has the potential to provide up to 39,000 megawatts of green energy for the state – enough to power 15 million homes, said NYSERDA.

New York state, through NYSERDA, has committed an additional $20.5 million to fund the consortium as part of Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative.

“New York leads the nation in its commitment to renewable energy, and offshore wind is an affordable clean energy source that will power our future,” Cuomo said. “This consortium cements our role as the national capital of the offshore wind industry and will drive innovation and development, support job creation and bolster our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a cleaner, greener New York for all.”

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