Marc Lefkowitz | 05/13/09 @ 12:08pm
Wind energy is starting to build to serious momentum in Northern Ohio. Here's a round-up of exciting new developments in wind power in our region.
- Pearl Road Auto Parts and Wrecking will become the first business in Cleveland to capture the wind to generate electricity. It breaks ground today for a 140-foot tower and a Vestas remanufactured wind turbine (to be erected this summer) at its 4.7 acre site along I-480. "This project will reduce demand for carbon-based energy production, increase regional renewable energy generation and create an economic model that proves the investment in wind energy makes good business sense," said co-owner Jon Kaplan, who expects the turbine to offset 100% of the company's electric power needs.
- Green Energy Technologies in Bath Township is finally taking its WindCube-a 22-foot-tall turbine with self-contained blades that can be mounted on a rooftop of a commercial building and produce a 60 kW of clean power-to market. The company is partnering with local manufacturers who expect to hire 100+ new workers. Read more.
- John Sekulic, owner of St. George's Renewable Energy, requested 13 submerged land leases from the city of Lorain and requested $9.8 million from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority to build a wind turbine farm, initially comprising 13 turbines, three miles east and two miles out into Lake Erie. Read more.
- Cleveland State University is piloting a new type of wind turbine designed by one of its engineering professors and has installed it on the school's Plant Services Building at E. 25th Street and Chester.The 25-foot wide cylindrical structure is designed to amplify wind speeds across the face of the turbines, resulting in higher power output and lower turbine cut-in wind speeds compared to standard turbine systems. Read more.
- Despite the numerous challenges-migrating birds, ice build up and maintenance in winter, no existing regulatory framework and raising a minimum of $77 million-Cuyahoga County's wind energy consultants, juwi, confirmed a Lake Erie wind farm is worth pursuing. Some back of the napkin calculations from the numbers presented in the executive summary of the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Final Feasibility Study show the German firm, which has consulted on European wind projects, thinks Lake Erie has world-class wind. And with the right public financing, a wind farm starting at three 5MW turbines could produce cost-competitive power. Take a best case scenario: How would a $40 million subsidy impact the cost? It would cost $6.6 million a year (financing $37.2 million for 15 years at 3% interest) and, based on juwi's assumptions of 33% wind capacity factor, the three turbines might produce 35-55,000 megawatts per year at a rate of $0.18 to $0.12 per kWh (average consumer rates are around $0.10 per kWh). See our back of the napkin calculations here.
- From Cleveland.com: 'Cleveland proposes ordinance to regulate aesthetics and safety of wind turbines'. The move by the city was spurred by Pearl Road Auto Parts & Wrecking's request to build a turbine on its property, next to I-480.
City council expects to set a date for a hearing next week. Although this legislation will effectively bar freestanding wind turbines in areas of the city with residential density, it isn't the only issue facing wind turbines in urban areas. Solar Today wrote a timely article on 'Zoning for small wind turbines: Here's what belongs in a zoning ordinance and what doesn't'.
The aesthetics and land-use issues for wind turbines are a hot national issue. This article notes 'a movement is afoot to restrict wind turbines in the rural area of Oregon.' It raises the issue of how to strike a balance between the need for more clean energy and preserving natural habitat and farmland.
Aesthetics of a wind farm on Lake Erie are not seen as a big issue, and shouldn't be one as they will be tiny pinwheels if built three miles offshore. The challenges to offshore wind can be convincingly answered only after test turbines are built, the PD editors write, and that "requires backers of this plan to move extra-fast to define ownership and resolve regulatory and cost questions in order to cut the best deals and round up the most grants. Given the opportunity to make Ohio an iconic location for Great Lakes wind-farm development, state officials should be the first to the table with grants and extra tax and regulatory incentives for offshore wind."