Lessons Learned from WIND LAB


Inside this Article

On the Bergey tower at the Wind Lab.
New York map showing average wind speeds at 30 meters.
The SUNY-Morrisville wind energy site at the Dairy Complex.
A wind rose for the site shows the distribution of wind directions.
Anemometers on a met tower measure wind speeds at 71, 102, and 122 feet, as well as wind direction (at 100 feet).
This Bergey Excel 10, installed in 2006, produces about 9 MWh of electricity each year.
The Bergey Excel 10’s output is grid-tied through a Powersync II inverter.
A Xzeres Skystream, installed in 2013, produces nearly 1.7 MWh annually. Here, it is being tilted down for turbine maintenance.
Routine maintenance is more routine in this hands-on learning environment. Here, student Ben Wlock checks torque specs on the Bergey’s 120-foot guyed lattice tower.
Students Jesse Symonds and Joe Haines balance the Skystream’s blade assembly.
Cracked blades were changed on the Excel in 2015.
The dusty environment necessitates regular replacement of the leading-edge tape on the blades.
Student Ryan Storke works on the Bergey’s slip-ring brush assembly, a typical maintenance item on turbines that yaw automatically.
Author/instructor Phil Hofmeyer leads the hands-on, off-the-ground, wind-power curriculum.
With the Skystream tilted down, students adjust torque on the vibration-dampening system.
Students torque the bolts on the base flange of the Skystream’s 71-foot monopole tilt-up tower.

In 2006, the State University of New York-Morrisville (SUNY-Morrisville) campus installed the college’s first small wind system, a 10 kW Bergey Excel. A meteorological (met) tower was installed in 2009; a second system, a Xzeres Skystream 3.7, went up in 2013. Students in the Renewable Energy (RE) program were able to apply their classroom instruction in wind resource site assessment, and practice technical skills in wind system installation and troubleshooting. 

Assessing the Site

The campus sits at the geographic center of New York State, in a rural agricultural landscape with mountain ridges and a patchwork of cropland and forests. At the convergence of westerly winds from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, there is a strong wind resource at the ridge tops. However, due to the complex terrain, wind site assessment is challenging.

While most of the campus is in a valley, the Dairy Complex sits on a hilltop, and was chosen as the wind lab location. Only 0.5 miles south of the main campus, it is close enough for easy access during labs, and has a large enough electrical load to warrant RE systems. The site is on a hilltop within a bowl, with ridges to the northwest, west, and southwest that are 100 to 300 feet higher in elevation. This is particularly concerning because those are the prevailing wind directions. The ridge tops are all less than 1 mile from the turbine sites.

Met-Tower Lessons

Installing an anemometer prior to installing a turbine is a good way to determine site suitability if you can measure wind speed for a fairly lengthy period of time (6+ months) as close to the proposed hub height as possible. A home weather station with an anemometer and wind vane will not be effective unless it is at least 30 feet above and 500 feet away from obstructions.

In 2009, to better understand the wind resource and its influence on energy production and long-term turbine maintenance, RE installation company Sustainable Energy Development and the students installed a guyed, tilt-up met tower. The tower is outfitted with anemometers—which measure wind speed at 71, 102, and 122 feet above ground level—and a wind vane for recording wind direction at 100 feet. Anemometers were also installed on the Bergey tower at 71 feet and 102 feet as control points for the met-tower anemometers.

At 122 feet above ground level, our site has a measured average wind velocity of 9.8 mph; at 71 feet, wind speed is 8.1 mph. While neither of these wind velocities is fantastic for energy production, they are adequate for teaching purposes.

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