What good is a wind turbine if you have nowhere to put it?

Cape May-based Fishermen's Energy is looking for the perfect spot to place a meteorological tower during a weeklong mission that is expected to begin within the next week about 10 miles off the Ocean City.

Fishermen's Energy is one of three companies that have been granted approval for the construction of meteorological towers, the first step toward building offshore wind farms. These towers are expected to be built about 10 to 20 miles off the New Jersey coast.

The towers will collect important data about where the best wind energy potential lies.

Fishermen's Energy plans to construct a 350-megawatt offshore wind farm, enough to generate electricity for about 280,000 homes in New Jersey.

Fishermen's Energy's tower is set to be put into the water next June, but the team has more work to do before that can happen.

On Thursday, the team was preparing for an expedition to look at the ocean floor in an effort to find the smoothest and most stable part of the floor to place its tower.

"Ideally, we'd like to get into some very firm subaquatic structure," said Steve O'Malley, engineering coordinator for Fishermen's Energy. "The more firm (the sea floor) is, the less digging we have to do to lay the foundation."

The team is exploring an area about 1¼ square miles in size, and between 150 and 200 feet of water.

The expedition is expected to take about a week, and the team has fitted the fishing vessel Captain Bob with special equipment to study the sea floor.

Submersible, submarinelike devices will take images of the floor and send the data to computers on board the ship.

The data overlaps to create a three-dimensional image of what lies beneath the boat, according to Robert Mecarini, executive vice president of Alpine Ocean Seismic Survey, the company supplying the special equipment.

The same kind of studies need to be done when the actual wind farm is being put into place. Fishermen's Energy's plans call for an offshore wind farm with 96 wind turbines generating electricity.

"This (study) is a fraction of what we need to do for the turbines," O'Malley said.

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