Backgrounder: Wind buoy deployment off Trial Island


UVic’s Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery (PRIMED) lab provides answers about the wind buoy research project.

The Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery (PRIMED) is a research lab at the University of Victoria. Co-led by UVic mechanical engineering researchers Curran Crawford and Brad Buckham, it has been engaged in marine renewable energy research since 2015.

Dr. Brad Buckham is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UVic and co-director of the PRIMED lab. His research focuses on: wave energy conversion; cabled offshore systems; marine renewable energy systems; and marine vehicle dynamics and control.

Dr. Curran Crawford is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UVic and co-director of PRIMED lab. His research focuses on: wind and tidal energy devices and integration; electrified transportation; and sustainable energy systems spanning from remote micro-grids to large-scale carbon capture and sequestration.

Chloe Immonen began working as a research scientist with PRIMED after earning her Bachelor of Science from UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences in 2019. Her work with the PRIMED lab involves: planning and conducting field missions; managing logistics for buoy deployments; and developing relationships with communities interested in renewable resources.

The Institute for Integrated Energy Systems (IESVic) is a multidisciplinary research institute that provides leadership at the University of Victoria in the study of critical energy issues, human dimensions of energy, education and training, and works closely with industry, not-for-profits, and government.

Q. What is the buoy's purpose?

A. The buoy will be anchored off Trial Island near Oak Bay as part of a UVic research project exploring the feasibility of wind power to supplement the energy needs of remote coastal communities in BC. The buoy’s primary purpose is to gather data on offshore wind patterns using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) devices that measure speed and direction.

Q. How big is the buoy?

A. The buoy weighs 5,500 kilograms, and measures 6 m long by 3 m wide by 9 m tall. However, it will be able to measure the changing patterns of wind 200 metres above the water’s surface.

Q. How and when will the buoy be deployed (put in the ocean)?

A. On the day of deployment, a crew and vessel from Salish Sea Industrial Services (at Point Hope Maritime shipyard) will have the buoy lifted from the shipyard onto a crane barge. It will take up to three hours for a tugboat to pull the barge from the Inner Harbour to the waters near Trial Island. Anchoring and setting up the buoy near Trial Island is expected to take about two hours. Deployment is expected to take place sometime this month, depending on weather conditions.

Q. How long will the buoy remain deployed off Trial Island?

A. The buoy will remain near Trial Island until the research validation project is completed—approximately six months.

Q. Who is in charge of the project?

A. This is a project of the Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery (PRIMED) at UVic. PRIMED is part of the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems (IESVic)

Q. What is the cost of the buoy and how has it been funded?

A. The buoy, which cost about $1.8 million, was purchased as a part of a broader UVic project called the Canadian-Pacific Robotic Ocean Observing Facility (C-PROOF). C-PROOF aims to build ocean observing capacity and data collection off the BC coast, including information about wave power, circulation patterns, depth and so on. Led by researcher Jody Klymak of UVic Earth and Ocean Sciences, the initiative is funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the BC Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF).

Q. Who built the buoy?

A. The buoy was built to PRIMED’s specifications by AXYS Technologies, a Sidney-based company that designs, manufactures and deploys remote environmental monitoring systems worldwide. AXYS has built and commissioned more than 250 meteorological and oceanographic stations in over 30 countries. This is the first time one of its systems will be deployed to gather wind data in BC.

Q. How will the buoy gather data about wind patterns?

A. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor equipment will be in two places: aboard the buoy and on the roof of an existing building on Trial Island. Although the buoy is physically only nine metres tall, these sensors enable researchers to continuously measure wind speeds and directions within a huge air column that rises 200 metres above the water’s surface—the same height of a typical offshore wind turbine. It’s important that these LiDAR sensors can measure wind patterns at various intervals up the air column because wind changes depending on its height above sea level. Data gathered this way over a long period of time will ensure the information is recognized by International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards and will help industry determine the best sites for future offshore wind turbine projects.

Q.How will the data be transmitted to researchers?

A. The data will be transmitted over cellular networks, with satellite as a backup. It will be fed live to the Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System (CIOOS), an open access software platform designed for sharing relevant and high-quality data and information on the state of our oceans.

Q. Who will benefit from the data gathered from the buoy?

A. The ultimate purpose of gathering offshore wind data is to benefit small populations living in off-grid coastal communities, who want to reduce their diesel consumption and rely on renewable energy sources. Such data is needed in order to encourage industry to exploit marine wind power by producing viable commercial technologies.

Q. After this project is complete, what will happen to the buoy?

A. The buoy furthers PRIMED’s research into offshore wind, in addition to providing other meteorological and oceanographic datasets to researchers of marine renewable energy. The data collected with this buoy will be used for resource assessments, and in turn help PRIMED study feasibility of wind energy integration to supplement BC communities’ energy needs.

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Media contacts

Curran Crawford (PRIMED lab & Department of Mechanical Engineering) at 250-721-7960 or

Anne Tolson (Engineering and Computer Science Communications ) at 250-812-6309 or

Robyn Quinn (University Communications + Marketing) at 250-415-7020 or

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In this story

Keywords: Indigenous, sustainability, clean energy, research, community, climate, technology

People: Curran Crawford, Brad Buckham, Chloe Immonen

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