07 Nov 2023
A new study and supporting documents by Wind Harvest, a company that is building a novel type of short, utility-scale turbine, has found that mid-level wind turbines could more nearly quintuple the energy output in the exceptionally windy Solano Wind Resource Area. If utilized, this wind resource would provide enough energy to power 1.4 million California homes each year.
Mid-level wind is a term used to describe the currently untapped energy resources found in the turbulent wind 15 ft to 100 ft (5-30m) above the ground. In contrast, modern horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) take advantage of smooth (laminar) wind energy over 100 feet above the ground. At present, the Solano Wind Resource Area has maximized its potential for HAWTs and can no longer add any more turbines of that size. However, there is plenty of room for shorter VAWTs that can fit beneath and between the current fleet of HAWTs to significantly increase energy production of the area.
In this study, Wind Harvest analyzed 66 feet (20m) above-ground wind speeds in the Solano Wind Resource Area using publicly available location information and average annual wind speeds from UL's Windnavigator, the world’s best tool for evaluating wind speeds
The analysis shows that existing farms could add 4,900 megawatts (MWs) of short, Wind Harvester-type vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) to the 1,021 MWs of HAWTs currently installed. Based on the mid-level wind speeds in the zone and assuming the use of VAWTs that would be as efficient as Wind Harvester turbines, the Solano Wind Resource Area could produce 13.5 GWh of electricity per year.
Kevin Wolf, CEO of Wind Harvest, said of the study: “To achieve a clean energy future, we need to make use of the least expensive sources of renewable energy found in the windiest areas around the world. Adding an underlayer of VAWTs in the Solano Wind Resource Area would be a win for the county and Northern California ratepayers.”
Wolf added, “Because this land is already zoned for wind turbines, and infrastructure has already been installed, it should take less time and effort to secure a permit to install an understory of VAWTs into existing wind farms than it is to develop new wind farms in the state.”
Beyond existing wind farms, 2,100 MWs of VAWTs can be added in areas north of Highway 12 where zoning prevents turbines greater than 100’ (30m) from being installed. VAWTs can easily stay under that height restriction and avoid the problems tall turbines create for Travis Air Force Base.
Wind Harvest designs, makes, and sells Wind Harvester™ VAWTs to commercial and utility customers. These turbines will vary in capacity from 50 kilowatts (“kW”) to 250kW. Their blade tips can be as low as 60 feet above the ground. All are designed for the turbulent and gusting mid-level wind that traditional turbines are unable to use. Their first Wind Harvester will be third-party certified and available for sale in 2024 with 50 to 75kW generators.
Wind Harvest | https://www.windharvest.com