Shell-EDF US offshore wind joint venture Atlantic Shores is about to launch a pair of data collection buoys at its lease area off New Jersey, to amass key atmospheric and weather data, and track the migration of a variety of species of bird, fish, turtle and other animals nano-tagged by researchers.

The deployment marks the next step in the development of the giant offshore wind lease, which sprawls over a 740.5km2 zone 16-32 km from shore between Atlantic City and Barnegat Light, where the pair have the ambition of building out some 3GW of plant.

Data collected from the buoys is designed to “strengthen” atmospheric models that help inform estimates of energy production for the proposed project, with special attention to be paid to data to advance research of the so-called Mid-Atlantic cold pool – a highly dynamic layer of lower-temperature water lying just below the surface in the waters of the region that is home to “some of the most lucrative fisheries in the world”.

The units, supplied by contractor Fugro, will also fact-gathering on animal migration and stop-over activities in the area, to shape thinking on development of the wind zone.

Jennifer Daniels, Atlantic Shores’ development director, said: “The analysis that our team will conduct is essential to further develop our knowledge of the lease area’s atmospheric and ecological conditions.

“Atlantic Shores leads with science, and we are proud to collaborate with one of the state’s leading academic institutions to deepen the body of research on coastal New Jersey waters.”

Atlantic Shoes bid several different size projects from its New Jersey lease area into the state’s solicitation for 1.2-2.4GW capacity, which closed last year.

New Jersey aims to have 7.5GW offshore wind energy generating in its waters by 2035.

The US’ National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates there is a 2TW offshore wind resource – equal to twice the nation’s current electricity use – flowing over the country’s Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

However, only 42MW is turning today, via the landmark Block Island and CVOW arrays, though the first utility-scale development, the serially-delayed 800MW Vineyard Wind 1, is now awarding contracts in the run up to construction start.

Developer-led industry group the Ocean Renewable Energy Action Coalition expects sea-based wind projects to make up 85% of a 1.4TW build out of renewable ocean energy plant by 2050.

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