March 18, 2019

Merkley, Wyden Announce $2.5 Million for Offshore Wind Energy Research

The grant will support Oregon State University’s cutting-edge research on wind energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced a major, $2.5 million grant for Oregon State University to develop monitoring systems for offshore wind turbines, advancing the renewable energy technology with cutting-edge research.

“If we want to curb climate chaos and remain an economic force in the world, we must invest in research and development for the most cutting-edge energy technology,” said Merkley, who uses his seat on the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee to ensure these types of grant programs are funded. “I’ve climbed to the top of a wind turbine and witnessed their power—not only powering the electric grid with clean energy, but also powering local economies with jobs. This investment in research is good for our planet and good for our communities.”

“It’s time to kick the carbon habit, and that means promoting innovation in clean, renewable energy,” said Wyden. “Investments like these are exactly what’s needed to transition the United States away from the dirty energy relics of yesteryear and into the future.”

“Oregon State University is proud of its faculty research community for contributing significant scientific discovery and innovation toward a renewable energy future,” said Irem Tumer, Oregon State’s interim vice president for research. “Dr. Roberto Albertani and his team will play a key role in utilizing technological innovation to improve understanding of how offshore wind energy systems may interact with the surrounding natural environment.” 

The award is among the $6.2 million in grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy for early stage research and development projects that will reduce environmental compliance costs and environmental impacts of land-based and offshore wind energy. Technologies that reduce the impact to bats, birds and other wildlife can lead to less curtailment when wind turbines have to be shut down. 

Oregon State University will design, build, and test an autonomous monitoring system to accurately detect bird and bat collisions with offshore wind turbines. The system will combine microphones and 360-degree cameras with analysis software to detect and verify impacts.