ATLANTIC CITY — It’s a little reminiscent of the Beatles’ yellow submarine, but it doesn’t go underwater.
Instead, the bright yellow, boat-like buoy that floated off a dock Monday at Gardner’s Basin will use high-tech instrumentation on deck to help Danish offshore wind company Orsted place wind turbines for its Ocean Wind project, planned for 10 miles off Atlantic City.
If built, Ocean Wind would be New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm, and only the second in the nation after the five-turbine, 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island.
Company officials have said they could have the wind farm operational by 2025, but only if it is soon awarded state offshore wind energy credits to finance construction. The program to do that is still being created by the state Board of Public Utilities.
Gov. Phil Murphy has committed New Jersey to quickly generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity through offshore wind, 3,500 megawatts from offshore wind by 2030, and 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.
The most important equipment on the buoy is the FLiDAR, or Floating Lidar, unit on board. It shoots lasers up to 200 meters in the air to take wind speed and direction measurements, said P.S. Reilly, president and CEO of Axys Technologies, which developed the buoy. She would not say exactly how expensive the buoy was to build, but said it was more than $1 million.
“It has survived bomb cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes and kept sending data,” Reilly said of similar buoys deployed around Europe and Asia.
Lidar is a surveying method that measures distance to a target with pulsed laser light reflected to a sensor.
If the weather is good, the buoy will be launched Tuesday and be tethered to a spot in the lease area for about a year, said Jens Hieronymus Gravgaard, Orsted’s senior project development manager.
It will join a similar buoy taking measurements in another spot in the lease area, he said.
The picture that emerges after a year or more allows engineers to see prevailing winds and the best configuration to capture wind while avoiding metal fatigue from too much battering.
Other types of specialized boats will be sent out to map the ocean floor and take core samples of the floor’s makeup, Gravgaard said.
New Jersey is in the process of developing an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit program, which would provide a way for ratepayers to subsidize the construction of wind farms.
It will be a competitive process to win the right to receive ORECs, Gravgaard said. Several other companies have nearby leases, and the only requirement to apply for ORECs is having an agreement to tie into the energy grid in New Jersey, he said.
The company has put in requests to hook into the grid at the soon-to-close Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station and at a second site in Howell Township, Monmouth County, he said. It doesn’t have an agreement yet.
The size of Ocean Wind would be determined by how many ORECs the project is awarded. He said Orsted could easily build a single wind farm that would provide 1,100 megawatts of electricity to meet Murphy’s initial goal.
Ocean Wind could eventually generate up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 1.5 million homes, according to Orsted North America President Thomas Brostrom.
The buoy also contains equipment to measure wave height, speed and power, and air and water temperatures. Data will be transmitted back to technicians based in British Columbia, Europe and Asia, Reilly said.
The onboard energy for all that equipment comes from four small wind turbines on the buoy, Reilly said, but there is solar and other back up.
The buoy was shipped from Europe in parts to a dock in Avalon, where Axys workers put it together, then towed to Atlantic City, Reilly said.
“We had historical relationships in Avalon,” so they used their facilities, said Mike Connatty, an engineer with Orsted.
Orsted officially opened its New Jersey headquarters in Atlantic City in May.
Gov. Phil Murphy has said the project will create more than 1,000 construction jobs and 100 permanent jobs upon completion.
Orsted has built and operates more than 20 wind farms throughout Europe. It holds leases for developing wind farms off Atlantic City, Massachusetts and Virginia.