October 17, 2008

Case Western Reserve University's farm is getting a little greener

Feasibility study is underway to see if wind turbine can generate electrical needs for facility


Case Western Reserve University's Squire Valleevue Farm in Hunting Valley may be green, but if the university finds it feasible, the 389-acre farm will become even greener with the installation of an energy-generating wind turbine. If implemented, the wind turbine would showcase alternative energy and yield significant economic, environmental, research and educational benefits for Case Western Reserve students and faculty.

According to the farm director and lead investigator Ana Locci of the department of biology, a study by the Cleveland-area firm of Engineered Process Systems will examine the practicability of wind-generated energy as a cost-effective way to meet the farm's electrical needs.

If installed, not only will the wind turbine offset most of the farm's energy needs but it will also become a research and teaching site where biologists and engineers can study the impact of wind energy on the environment and also new technologies. It will also become a demonstration site for school teachers and the community interested in this renewable energy source.

The wind turbine study is a joint project of the University Farm and the Great Lakes Institute of Energy Innovation, based at the Case School of Engineering.

Funds for the $15,000 feasibility study were allocated by Eugene Matthews, director of facility services, from the campus' Sustainability Fund. If the study determines it is doable, the turbine will be installed and operational in 2009.

The turbine would stand approximately 100 feet tall with 20-foot blades. It has the potential to generate 50 kilowatts (kW) of electricity. The turbine under consideration for the farm has been developed by Entegrity Wind System Inc. The Colorado-based company has a 15-year record, with more than 100 installations in the United States and Canada.

According to Locci, the turbine and a new electrical system throughout the farm have a projected cost of $290,000. This includes the turbine, tower, ancillary equipment, foundation and necessary electrical modifications.

The university will seek an Ohio Renewable Energy grant for $125,000, with remaining funds raised through donations.

Locci is working on the wind turbine project with Kenneth Kutina, vice president emeritus for institutional planning and member of the farm management committee, and David Matthiesen, associate professor in the department of material science and engineering and faculty leader of the Wind Energy Section of the institute.

Wind Turbine at Great Lakes Science Center
Wind Turbine at Great
Lakes Science Center

Among the sprawling woodlands, streams and fields are a number of buildings, including barns, houses, a greenhouse, labs and classrooms, which used approximately 117,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity last year.

The project team predicts, based on early figures that the medium-size turbine (one fifth the size of the Great Lakes Science Center's turbine), will generate approximately 90 percent of the farm's use of electricity. Only two private residences and the lower farm are too distant from the turbine to meet their electrical needs.

According to Locci, Engineered Process Systems has determined that the best location for the turbine would be in the heart of the farm near the research fields.

The wind turbine also will complement the farm's efforts to capture the earth's natural heat through geothermal energy technologies.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, October 17, 2008 11:03 AM | News Topics: Alumnet, Campus Life, Case School of Engineering, Collaborations/Partnerships, College of Arts and Sciences, Energy, Environment, Faculty, HeadlinesMain, Provost Initiatives, Science, news, sustainability

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