Offshore wind farms are coming to the coasts of Maryland and Virginia, and when they do they will gather and share valuable oceanic data with scientists.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just announced a first-of-its-kind agreement with Ørsted Wind Power North America LLC, who is developing wind farms off Virginia Beach and Ocean City, Maryland. Under the agreement, NOAA will get access to physicial and biological data from Ørsted-leased waters (subject to U.S. jurisdiction).
NOAA believes the wind farm data will “fill gaps in ocean science areas, particularly in ocean mapping and observing,” to help the agency with climate adaptation and mitigation projects, as well as study weather-readiness, healthy oceans, and coastal resilience.
This agreement paves the way for future data-sharing agreements with other developers, as the wind energy industry grows. NOAA will be able to look at air and water quality and emissions, meteorology, coastal currents and waves, hydrographic mapping, and physical oceanography.
“This partnership with industry will deliver data Americans use for business, science, and education, while at the same time mitigating effects of climate change,” said Ben Friedman, NOAA’s acting administrator. “Our ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources are critical to national security and well-being.”
In return, NOAA will share its publicly available data with Ørsted.
“Climate change is a reality, and we are proud to work with NOAA to provide crucial information and to demonstrate how our industry can be stewards of our oceans while providing American individuals and businesses with clean, renewable energy,” said Ørsted Offshore North America CEO David Hardy.
Ørsted is behind the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project as well as the Skipjack Wind Farm, one of two planned for the waters off Ocean City. Last year the European company announced it would lease part of Portsmouth Marine Terminal for at least six years, using the Norfolk Harbor site to stage materials and equipment for its East Coast wind farms.
Ørsted plans to install nearly 3,000 megawatts of wind energy projects in the U.S. between now and 2026.
-Meg Walburn Viviano