Wind Generator Feasibility Study as a Part of an Outdoor Classroom

Grant# 97-04
Principal Investigator: David Petersen
Co-Principal Investigator: Ron Bryan
Organization: Storm Lake Middle School
Technical Area: Information Transfer/Renewable Energy

Background and Significance
Storm Lake Middle School developed an outdoor classroom concept with several different areas of study. One area the researchers wantede to include in the total concept was some type of power generator. On the surface it appears that a wind generator would be the most likely method. However, the staff and students choose to do a year study of the wind velocity and direction to determine the feasibility of a wind generator producing enough electricity to be economically profitable.

The study was the primary responsibility of the eighth grade science classes, but all students in the building were involved at some level. Collecting the data, comparing it to outside sources for confirmation, and using it in comparison to what is required for profitable wind generated power were all a part of this yearlong study. If the study determined that the site would be appropriate to install a wind generator, then further sources of revenue would be surveyed to construct such a generator.

If the data collected in the study and the subsequent research indicated that a wind generator would be a good investment for Storm Lake Middle School, then the educational opportunities gained through the study could be continued through the study of the power generated. This project could become part of a significant environment study, as well as a “real life” ongoing mathematics problem.

Project Objectives
The objective was to collect data using the tower, anemometers, wind direction vanes and related equipment concerning wind speed and direction over the period of about one year. With this ten to twelve months of data collected, researchers would be able to determine the value of a wind generator on their school grounds to supplement their existing electrical needs.

Summary of Work to Date

Part 1
The 40-meter tower was erected on site. The data is being stored in the 9300 NRG logger. This information includes wind direction, wind speed, temperature and the amount of solar energy striking the site. Information can be transferred to the hand held reader weekly. This data was passed to Tom Factor at the Iowa Wind Energy Institute, Fairfield, Iowa for use with the Iowa Energy Center’s Wind Assessment Study.

Part 2
The 300-watt turbine, wiring and a four golf cart battery storage bank have been installed. At the present time, the batteries are being charged to full capacity. It was determined that initial problems with powering equipment at the school were the result of too much load and that the battery bank had not been fully charged. Readouts of data from the Tri-metric battery monitoring unit have been forwarded to the Iowa Energy Center. The turbine unit will be used to demonstrate wind energy to the students. So far, a trouble light, cassette player, computer monitor, clock and an aquarium have operated using stored electricity generated from the turbine.