Research: Lake Mich. ice shouldn't block turbines


MUSKEGON, Mich.  — Ice during winter months on Lake Michigan shouldn’t block potential wind turbine farms in the water, according to a researcher studying the issue.

The initial conclusion is from University of Michigan marine engineer Dale G. Karr, based upon his work for the U.S. Department of Energy studying Great Lakes ice and its impact on wind turbine towers, The Muskegon Chronicle reported.

“I have not found ice to be a show stopper,” Karr said.

Karr discussed his work Monday at Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon. Karr’s research has looked at several models of the effects of ice on Great Lakes turbines, including pressure on turbine platforms.

“Ice is a major issue, if not the major issue, for wind energy on the Great Lakes,” Karr said. “The answer will start to emerge next spring when we will determine the designs and costs.”

Land-based power generation using wind has been on the rise in Michigan, including along Lake Michigan. Offshore wind production would be about three times the cost of onshore wind farms, said Arn Boezaart, director of the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center.