Investigating wind energy
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Investigating Wind Energy. In the Southwest Washington Coastal Region. A Research Proposal Prepared for Energy Systems & Climate Change The Evergreen State College Fall 2011-Winter 2012 Involving :.

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Investigating Wind Energy

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Investigating wind energy

Investigating Wind Energy

In the Southwest Washington Coastal Region

Investigating wind energy

A Research Proposal Prepared for

Energy Systems & Climate Change

The Evergreen State College

Fall 2011-Winter 2012


A focused analysis of wind energy prospects off-shore, directly off-shore, and directly on-shore in the Long Beach corridor.


An interactive exploration of potential efficiency amplification (in Watts/square meter) using vertical axis wind-turbine arrangements - via simulation and replication to-scale for various sites and constraints.

By Zach Baugher

Investigating wind energy

Why Clean Energy, Doesn’t it CostMore than Coal and Natural Gas?

Global CO2 Output in 2007 :29,888,121

(in thousands of metric tons/yr.)

By Region:

  • The United States: 5,461,014

  • China: 7,031,916

  • Washington: 82,560

  • Sweden: 49,050

Global Rank:





% of Global Output:



. 28


  • Our State (Pop. 6.5 million) was ranked 27th in the nation for carbon emissions, yet 43rd among world nations.

  • That’s just less than the entirety of the Philippines (Pop. 94 million) and more than 173 UN countries.

* 2007 Data

So washington has an unfair impact on co2 emissions i thought we were ahead of the curve

So, Washington has an unfair impact on CO2 emissions? I thought we were ahead of the curve!

  • Burning of Fossil Fuels is convenient and economical, but does literally incalculable damage to delicate, unpredictable natural systems via pollutants.

  • Global climate change is approaching tipping points across the board, those who are serious about human survival are serious about stifling greenhouse gas emissions now.

  • Luckily, Washington has a vast untapped, clean, and abundant natural resource – the task is changing our means…

What alternative energy sources can our region provide

What Alternative Energy Sources CanOur Region Provide?

  • Just as one-hundred square miles of Arizona desert receives enough of the Sun’s energy to meet the nations electricity needs - the prevailing and energy-rich gulf stream hovering over our state literally knocks at our doorstep with a wealth of under-utilized energy potential.

  • While wind generation grew by 24% globally in 2010, and continues to expand both here and abroad, I intend to show that the approach to wind farming in Eastern Washington is less than ideal. More importantly, to demonstrate the many advantages and feasibility of coastal wind farms.

Investigating wind energy

Some of the strongest winds in the nation are right in our backyard

Investigating wind energy


  • Air with higher density exerts more force on the rotor resulting in a greater output.

  • Density is a function of altitude, temperature and pressure. Density increases as altitude and temperature decrease.

  • Therefore a wind turbine in colder climates will give more energy output than a wind turbine in warmer climates. A beachside turbine more than in the high plains, etc., given an equivalent average wind speed.

Current turbine and farm design

Current Turbine and Farm Design

  • Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs)

    • Dominate the large-scale farm market on-shore and off

    • Produce as much as 6-10 MWeper turbine

    • Require up to 1 mile of spacing due to turbulence

    • Average around 2-3 Watts per m2 of land use

    • Typically 50-100 meters tall – able to tap into stronger winds in more places

    • Huge embodiment of materials and energy in construction

      • (Approx. 335 tons of steel, 4.7 tons of copper, 1,200 tons of concrete, 3 tons of Aluminum, and 2 tons of rare earth minerals.)*

    • High maintenance costs

    • Present a serious threat to migrating fowl, ice throw, failures…

Current turbine and farm design continued

Current Turbine and Farm DesignContinued

  • Vertical Axis Wind Turbines (VAWTs)

    • Gearbox and generator can be ground located for easy access, tower supports less weight

    • Effective in gusty, shifting winds

    • Blades rotate slower and more visibly to birds, at lower sound levels than HAWTs

    • As ‘Not in My Back Yard’ is a real roadblock to turbine proliferation in the U.S., VAWTs have tremendous promise in minimal visual and environmental impact.

    • New research shows 21 to 47 watts of power per m2 of land use - even with 50% of the mechanical efficiency of best HAWTs. (1)

Arriving at qualitative wind data for siting and modeling a vawt installation

Arriving at qualitative wind data for siting and modeling a VAWT installation.

Most datasets available represent 50-80m, surely this varies from ground-level velocities… so how do I estimate the energy density of wind where VAWTs would typically operate?

  • Finding more extensive ground-level data via Bureau of Land Management, USGS,, AMS…

  • collecting my own readings at multiple locations and comparing with all of the data records I can amass.

    I’m interested in any other wind-data resources you can suggest!

  • An average velocity could be derived for a locale, for further calculation

    “the global wind power available 30 feet off the ground is greater than the world's electricity usage, several times over” (1)

Determining wind energy and array productivity

Determining Wind Energy and Array productivity

A series of calculations will lead me to find that the wind power density, P/A or wind power per unit area is:

Where ρ (Rho) represents air density and U its velocity.

Wind power (P) is thus proportional to the rotor area (A) swept by wind.

This will provide a baseline figure to compare with results from my scale representation.

Analyzing vawt arrangements

Analyzing VAWT Arrangements



  • Final Research Proposal

  • Searchable excel wind/power potential-database

  • Scale test bed/ Interactive visual aid

  • Final Report to involved parties, class.

“…these results are a compelling call for further research on alternatives to the wind-energy status quo.”

-J. Dabiri

Follow my latest findings via SlideCast at:

Happy holidays

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for your time!

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