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Wind Turbine at the Cuyahoga County (OH) Fairgrounds

March 17, 2013

Referencing Ohio Wind Maps for the Berea area the average annual wind speed in the area of the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds at an elevation of 70 meters is between 5.5 & 6.0 m/sec. Taking typical wind shear into account, this translates to around 5.6 m/sec at an elevation of 60 m, which is the approximate hub height of the turbine.

Given this wind speed, the annual energy output from a Vestas V-39 500 KW wind turbine can be expected to be approximately 721 MWh. This corresponds fairly well to published information from Vestas.

Please note that this method of analysis has previously proven to be overly generous to the wind turbines. This may be due to overly optimistic power curves for the turbines, overly optimistic wind speed information from NREL, or slight inaccuracy in the assumptions made for the standard Weibull analysis.

A reasonable economic analysis indicates that the return of the initial investment will occur in year 29. A reasonable expectation for service life for the wind turbine is 20 years. Therefore, no payback of the taxpayer’s investment of $1,675,000 can be expected.

Please refer to the analysis here:  Cuy Cnty Fairgrounds Turbine Analysis

Additional Considerations:

  • The economic analysis does not account for the cost that will be incurred to maintain and operate a traditional back-up system for generating power when the wind is not blowing adequately, and for the added cost and inefficiency of cycling this back-up system on and off to balance the supply load against the variability of the wind generated power.
  • Any supposed reductions in dependency on conventional power generation and any reductions in associated levels of pollution, attributed to use of wind power generation, are highly suspect; because of the need to maintain and operate the back-up systems in an inefficient manner.
  • If the same investment had been made in natural gas closed cycle gas turbine technology, roughly 16 times the electricity could be generated and, at the same time, we could eliminate 8 to 10 times the CO2 emissions (assuming the relacement of coal fired generation).

I sincerely doubt that this reality will ever be featured in the “public education” presentations at the Fair, and in other discussion regarding the wind turbine

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