Posts Tagged ‘small wind turbine’

Making Wind Power History :: Decommissioning a Aero Power SL 1500 wind turbine installed in 1981 in Berkeley, CA, USA

On 23 April 2013, I launched an indiegogo crowd funding campaign to raise funds to decommission a freewheeling, derelict 31 year 4 month old Aero Power SL 1500 in Berkeley, CA, USA. It’s taken the better part of a year to perform due diligence and build up a trust relationship with the homeowner of this small wind turbine. The case study can be read here.

Perhaps you reading this, and your organization might be interested in this information, and perhaps  including this announcement on your web site or other [social] media networks. 

Take a moment to check it out on Indiegogo [link is below] and also share it with your friends and colleagues.  All the tools are there. Get perks, make a contribution, or simply follow updates. If enough of us get behind it, we can make ‘Making Wind Power History’ happen!

The campaign only runs until Tuesday, 14 May 2013.

NB: I am in the process of compiling a comprehensive report on the steps taken to decommission this machine. I am donating the wind turbine to UC Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab [RAEL] for research and analysis.

Thanks for your consideration!


Decommissioning a small WTG in the built environment :: Berkeley, CA, USA

I am in the process of helping a family in Berkeley, CA, USA decommission their small wind turbine generator (WTG). Just yesterday, I was able to obtain an affirming newspaper article that this WTG was indeed the first small WTG installed in Berkeley.

Click here to view larger PDF.

As I continue to perform research and due diligence, my hope is I will reveal that this is the first WTG of it’s kind installed not only in Berkeley, or the East Bay of San Francisco, but in a California municipality.

In the coming weeks, I will post updates here, and eventually summarize all my findings in a historical report. It’s an honor and privilege that Paul Gipe thinks this is a worthwhile endeavor. And yes, I will be forwarding my final historical report to Paul Gipe for him to share on his web site, as well.

MORE ‘Green Gone Wrong’ (??) :: Greenway Self-Park WTG installation, Chicago, IL, USA

Based on what I have been able to locate, I think this structure is another example of ‘Green Gone Wrong.’ I reiterate, I think we need to be mindful about NOT over-hyping some green(er) technologies. I also understand we can model a technology to death, but until this machine/device is actually installed in the environment it is expected to perform, we will not know the true performance outcome–and this, naturally, will only come with time.

To the best of what I have been able to garner so far, I also understand this VAWT (vertical axis wind turbine) installation has been under-performing. I, however, aim to find out more, before I issue my final ruling. I located this article:

Greenway’s turbines were made by Helix Wind, though the initial plan was to use Aerotecture, a Chicago-based solar and wind energy company. But after studying the wind patterns near the garage, the company decided the site was “too low power” says Bil Becker, Aerotecture CEO. To avoid making himself–and the burgeoning wind-power industry–look bad, they withdrew from the project. They’ll try to [force] you into building a sculpture, he says, but, we don’t make sculptures.â

I have made contact with the vendor, Helix Wind, to see if I could garner more enlightenment on how this installation is actually performing and what the history of this installation truly encompassed. Mind you, my goal is to cheer lead, and ensure that greener deployments are viewed favorably and not undermined due to short-sightedness or misinformation.

I understand that this parking structure was originally to be commissioned back in September 2009. But due to there being a change in wind turbine manufacturers, this building was commissioned and the wind turbines became operational approximately Feb 2010. I placed a call into the Helix Wind technical support desk, and asked the engineer the following:

  • Which model of your VAWT is installed on the Greenway Parking Self-Park in Chicago, IL?
  • And how long has this installation been commissioned/deployed?
  • How long have you been collecting wind data?
  • How is it performing? Capacity factor?
  • What is Cp (coefficient of power) of your designs? I understand for a Hybrid/Savonius WTG, the theoretical max is ~= 0.24.
  • What is the gap between the turning bodies? I understand the optimal range for this parameter is 0.1-0.15m.

When I know more, you’ll know more…

More thoughts on the Portland, OR, USA 12W Bldg wind turbine array

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to walk past the 12W  building in downtown Portland, OR, USA. The day was blustery, so it was a treat to watch these downwind machines yaw into the wind. I know, I know, I am a geek.

Last summer, I had an opportunity to speak with the project architects about the energy production of this urban ‘wind farm.’ Indeed, the energy yield of 1%/annum is rather low; far less than expected for urban wind turbine installations. And ja, perhaps a 4-5%/annum yield would really mean something, especially if it were a part of a hybrid system, say accompanying a PV array.

Aside: From my vantage point yesterday, it appeared as if there might be a PV array installed since I made my last pass this building in late summer last year. Perhaps these architects took my advice?

Right, so ZGF is testing the production of electricity. And perhaps now they are investigating the vibrational and noise effects of putting four turbines on top of a building since I planted this seed on them last summer. I pointedly told them vibration and noise could end up being the bane of this real-world experiment. I had shared with them what I had learned from the decommissioning of wind turbines on the high-rise buildings due to the aerodynamic noise generated in the Warwick Wind Trials results, such that the wind turbines formerly installed on the 45m high Eden Court in the Warwickshire, UK had to be permanently switched off in October 2008 due to noise complaints by the inhabitants. I last heard there was a moratorium on installing wind turbines on buildings in the Midlands of the UK because of these results. Be a shame if this happens in Portland, too.

Typically, wind turbine supports/masts are installed directly into the vertical support structures of the building to make them stronger. Beats the hell out of me why they didn’t do this, especially since there was obviously intent to do this in their early drawings. Installing the wind turbines directly on the rooftop makes an ideal opportunity for different frequencies of harmonics, precipitated by the wind, “making parts of the building hum and vibrate.” The harmonics shift and cause different portions of this structure to vibrate as the wind rises and falls, compromising the quality of life for the inhabitants of this building. Annoying to say the least. And at worst, could compromise this installation, requiring a decommissioning and a missed opportunity to study the potential of installing small wind turbines in the urban/built environment.

I asked these architects last summer if the results would be publicized for public consumption, and so I could have a go at analyzing their data. I understand that the building was officially commissioned back in Nov 2009. I am still waiting to see the data that is produced by the on-board inverter, user-monitored two-way wi-fi interface of the Skystream 3.7 wind turbines. I have been known to be “blind”, but I could not locate anything last time I trolled their web site. And, I stopped contacting them, because I was under the distinct impression I had unearthed some discomforting ideas they weren’t too keen on addressing, although I am always one for providing workarounds and solutions.

As I am learning, most designers tend to quietly dismiss a project’s failings, and don’t repeat installations like this. And so, as with folks in the USA not paying attention to the results of the Warwick Wind Trials, I have to wonder as if the poor decisions will only be repeated here.

Some have wagered that this installation will be taken down within another 12 months. I would like to think this will not be the case. But only time will tell, eh?

NREL small wind turbine certification program–it’s a start…

I just posted this response on my profile and thought it warranted a re-post here for those of you that aren’t tethered to me in the matrix.
NREL’s only tested four manufacturers over the past two+ years:

Truly a surprise there have not been more, especially because of some recent performance issues revealed in the Warwick Wind Trials (WWT) in the early part of 2009.

Small wind turbine (WT) sage, Mick Sagrillo even raises the WWT in one of his posts —

As of today, there are approximately 408 small WTs on the market (340 HAWT, 68 VAWT) from 159 WT manufacturers, —

In the summer of last year, Boston-Cambridge Museum of Science installed some WTs: Architectural Wind AVX1000, Swift, Proven Omni Roof, Southwest Windpower Skystream 3.7, Mariah. There was an ANSYS CFX/Fluent CFD software webinar a few months ago on this installation/test environment — – You might have to register to view. You can use the slider bar to advance the slide show. At ~25:00 you can see all the WTs.

An interesting aside: Using ANSYS CFX, they were able to optimize the location of the Swift WT.

This all being said, I think it would help the small wind industry a great deal of more manufacturers had an independent review of their machines. The results from the 2007-2008 12-month Warwick Wind Trials in the UK reported discouraging wind energy yields for the 26 small, building-mounted wind turbines. In this trial, wind turbines sited in a veritable plethora of urban canopies were compared to rural areas that possess low surface roughness/texture. Small wind turbine manufacturers capacity claims fell far short of the results returned in this trial compared to their claims included in specification sheets. I can attest. I have seen and analyzed the data from the WWT, and most of it ain’t pretty.

Oh yeah, collaborations to arrive at an international standard would be prudent.

There was also a trial that ran for a year (April 2008 – March 2009) in Schoondijke, Zeeuwind of The Netherlands lead by Sander Mertens at Ik spreek maar een beetj Nederlands (I only speak a little Dutch). Ja, it’s in Dutch, so you’ll need to use a translator to get a contextual overview. Outcome was similar to the Warwick Wind Trials on the performance results.

Small & affordable wind turbine? Question small wind turbine manufacturers claims…

For posterity, I thought I should include this post here, even tho it appears on a couple of other web sites already…

As a consumer, be wary. Do not repeat the behaviour of the citizens of the UK when small wind turbine (WT) manufacturers suggested Joe and Julie homeowner could pick-up a small wind turbine in a box at the local B&Q; our equivalent of the Home Depot.

B&Q takes wind turbines off shelves
10 February 2009
A range of turbines have been withdrawn from sale after a recent study revealed they do not work as effectively as first thought.

You cannot get away from the fact, urban areas have low wind speeds which is good–otherwise people would not find them comfortable places to live. A wind turbine reaching a rated output of 1kW at 13m/s [~29.1 mph] is not going to pay its way in this kind of urban environment. High-rise buildings, however, may be a different matter.

In early 2009, results from the 2007-2008 12-month Warwick Wind Trials in the UK reported discouraging wind energy yields for the 26 small, building-mounted wind turbines. In this trial, wind turbines sited in a veritable plethora of urban canopies were compared to rural areas that possess low surface roughness/texture. Small wind turbine manufacturers capacity claims fell far short of the results returned in this trial compared to their claims included in specification sheets.

Indeed, especially in California, the small wind industry has been decreasing every year since 2002. The small wind industry could, however, use a boost. Generating electricity from wind energy close to where it can be used makes sense in a great deal of locales. Opportunities can exist for some (not all) small, urban wind turbine installations in a cityscape/built environment; but, decisions on the suitability and practicality requires vetting. The wind resource needs to be adequate, and the mounting location(s) of the WT(s) need to be properly sited in the prevailing wind direction.

Before I would recommend heading off to the local Ace Hardware Store next year, where I understand you may be able to acquire, for example, a Honeywell WT6500 Gearless Blade Tip Power System,  I would first suggest visiting sites like Green Terra Firma.

Bottom line:

  1. Know your wind resource and local ordinances.
  2. Know how to site your WTG (wind turbine generator). Depending on the roughness of your terrain, you’ll need to think about where to install. On or near the structure? If on a rooftop, how high above the rooftop should the hub height be to capture the accelerating wind coming over the rooftop parapet.
  3. Understand the WTG specifications as per your individual requirements. Is there any published performance data?

Be wary, as a consumer…

Return top

What is a Hybrid RE Engineer?

An engineering generalist with an understanding of sustainable development whose skills set are typically comprised of an amalgam of mechanical and electrical engineering. One who is able to design and assemble systems and components that are comprised of more than one renewable energy (RE) technology i.e. solar, wind, hydro-kinetic (ocean/wave/micro-hydro), biomass, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and storage (battery, fly wheel, pumped-hydro). The RE technologies selected depend on one's geographical predisposition, resource availability, the end-use need, practicing conservation (behavioral change) to name a few considerations...

Content © 2009-2017 by Kimberly King