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Wind Energy Projects

Past Projects

SECO's wind demonstration projects have ranged in size and complexity from wind powered pumps which use a high-speed wind turbine for pumping water from a gas well to turbines that pump water for crop irrigation to generating electricity on a college campus or residence in rural areas. These wind projects have demonstrated the feasibility and economic viability of using small wind turbines to replace the use of conventional energy sources. The turbines, in most cases, were interconnected with the local rural electric cooperative through a net-billing meter and equipped with instrumentation to collect data on the wind resource and the unit's production of electricity.

These demonstration projects have served as an educational tool for both the utility and residential sectors.

Texas Coastal Wind Resource Assessment

Validated onshore wind resource maps have helped accelerate the development of wind energy in many parts of the country. AWS Truewind has provided wind resource modeling for off-shore Gulf of Mexico areas of Texas through a cost-share project between SECO and the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). It is the intent of NREL to produce high-quality validated off-shore wind resource maps from validated gridded model data and use the attendant wind characteristic data to compile a comprehensive database of U.S. wind resources. NREL also plans to use this data to analyze the off-shore wind shear plus other wind characteristics for turbine design and performance.

Collection of Wind Speed and Direction Data (DOE Special Project)

West Texas A & M University's Alternative Energy Institute collected wind speed and direction data at 50 & 100 meters at two Texas locations: Texas High Plains, 20 miles east-southeast of Amarillo, and West Central Region, between Abilene & Sweetwater. The wind data will then correlate wind shear with long-term data analysis for future tall tower wind applications.

Final Report: April 2006

Wind Energy Storage

This project quantified the value of energy storage by analyzing a specific application of compressed air energy storage (CAES) to wind energy. The location in the study is the Panhandle area of Texas and Oklahoma and the eastern plains of New Mexico, a region with over 40 GW of potential wind development, but which is severely limited by the lack of transmission infrastructure and local load to support significant additions of wind generation capacity.

Final Report: June 2005

Bird Mortalities Risk Assessment

The Houston Advanced Research Center used radar and human observation to assess the risk of bird mortalities at potential wind turbine installations on the upper Texas coast. The project includes an estimation of the potential for bird mortality associated with the construction of wind turbines at the study site and the relationships among bird types, seasonal usage, daily activity patterns, and flight altitude. The Texas General Land Office has recently leased off shore sites and this study will be critical to gaining public trust for this type of wind development. The Bird Mortalities Risk Assessment study is the first due diligence study on the potential effects on the bird population along the Texas coast.

Final Report: December 2005

Wind Power for Schools

SECO partnered with Texas A&M University's Texas Engineering Experiment Station and wind power experts from West Texas A&M University's Alternative Energy Institute to provide a hands-on engineering design experience that is fully integrated into the engineering magnet school curriculums at both Laredo ISD and United ISD.

The students experience all aspects of the engineering design and manufacturing process of producing and installing four 1-2 kW prototype wind turbines for each school. The schools districts have the option of installing the system on campus or at the Webb County Self-Help Center. The turbine design is available to colonia residents as an alternative until they are able to access the electric grid. This is a multi-year contract to ensure that the faculty and students feel comfortable continuing the program. For additional information, see:

Laredo Students Build Wind Turbines for Colonias

Compressed Air Energy Storage Study

SECO commissioned a study through the Lower Colorado River Authority to examine how a large-scale compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant could substitute for or complement transmission projects. A plant of this type could also be used to shape wind production, effectively dispatching this intermittent resource. The findings in the study are encouraging.

Final Report 2003

Installation of Wind Data Monitoring Equipment

SECO worked with the Texas General Land Office (GLO) and West Texas A & M University's Alternative Energy Institute to collect, analyze and document wind data on Texas state-owned lands. The project included development and facilitation of a wind monitoring training workshop for interested groups and universities along the Texas coast. The project initiated ongoing development of Geographical Information System data on potential wind energy and analyzed the potential of coastal wind development through the use of satellite wave and other meteorological data as it becomes available. The coastal and off-shore areas of Texas look very promising for future wind development. Recently, the GLO announced a second off-shore lease. The funds generated from leasing state-owned lands go to the Texas Permanent School Fund, which provides findings for the education of our future generations.

Wind Analysis on Small Scale Wind Turbine Installations

The project goal was to collect and analyze wind data and the long-term operation and maintenance costs of small-scale wind systems in order to provide a more accurate cost of a small wind system. SECO worked with the Texas Department of Transportation and the Alternative Energy Institute to install wind energy systems at two highway safety rest areas, one located near Pine Springs and the other on I-40 Westbound near Alanreed. A third turbine was installed at the Hale County Historical Farm & Ranch Museum on I-27.

The wind turbine in Hale County provided a hands-on learning opportunity to work with the local utility cooperative. After attending a three-day wind installation workshop, the participants installed the system. Renewable energy information and educational materials are provided to the public at each of these locations. This project reinforced our strong partnership with the USDA office in Bushland through our work with West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas. The work done by these two entities provides SECO with the most knowledgeable wind, solar, and bioenergy expertise in the state.

Integrated Wind-Water system

Texas Tech University designed and performed initial characterization tests on a prototype integrated wind-water system. There are three fundamental motivations for the project. First is the dwindling volume of potable water available from the Ogallala aquifer, the source of much of the region's water. Second is the increasing recognition that renewable energy sources are needed to augment dwindling and increasingly costly fossil fuels. Third is the recognition that the treated water represents a form of energy storage for wind systems. Depending on the details of the economic environment, the wind turbines of future operational wind-water systems can be used to generate electricity during peak demand periods and produce water during off-peak periods.

This educational-scale wind-water system has three near-term objectives: 1) to serve as the prototype for planned, larger wind-water systems utilizing a utility-scale wind turbine rated at 1.5 MW; 2) to identify system integration and operational issues and their solutions; and 3) to serve as a research and educational vehicle for students and faculty. Longer term, the facility and research results will form the basis for addressing the non-fossil energy and potable water needs of West Texas and the greater southwest region.

The integrated wind-water system of this project was used to address system design, configuration and operational issues that are critical to the life-cycle economics. These include the necessity for grid connection and support; operation of the reverse osmosis (RO) pumps in variable speed mode where the electrical power is proportional to the wind speed; off-grid operation wherein the wind turbine shaft power is used to directly drive the pumps; the operational benefits of adding energy storage in the forms of batteries, fuel cells, flywheels and other energy storage technologies; and the effects of non-conventional utilization of the RO membranes together with solutions of problems revealed.

Renewable Energy at Work - Pflugerville

The Renewable Energy at Work project included a demonstration of renewable energy for a City of Pflugerville's Park and Recreation sod bike trail. The trail had a solar/wind system located on a picnic shelter sub-station. The barn employed a PV system and wind generation. The City of Pflugerville provided active and static renewable energy educational programs to the general public through the Pflugerville school district.

Renewable Energy Technologies Demonstration - Sheldon Lake Environmental Center

SECO contractor, West Texas A & M University's Alternative Energy Institute (AEI)designed and installed solar PV energy systems, a solar hot water system, a wind energy system, a geothermal energy system and data acquisition systems at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Sheldon Lake Environmental Center in Houston. TPWD coordinated and provided staff assistance to AEI on the design, site specifications, and installation preparation of each of the renewable energy technologies. The site was designated as a renewable energy technologies demonstration and educational site.

In addition to demonstrating renewable energy technologies, the Sheldon Lake Environmental Center has committed to purchasing five years of green power. The Texas parks and Wildlife Department has also published A Guide to Alternative Energy and Green Building.

SECO's Anemometer Loan Program

One of the most important criteria for determining the feasibility of a wind project is the level of wind resource available. An anemometer is a small cup-like device that rotates on top of a meteorological tower to measure the velocity or the pressure of the wind.he Alternative Energy Institute (AEI) at West Texas A&M operated an anemometer loan program for SECO. AEI provided data logger, sensors, and wire to install onto the landowner-provided tower as part of the anemometer loan program for Texas residents. Wiring costs would vary according to tower size and the number of sensors. AEI packaged everything with instructions and shipped it to the landowner (custom to their site), and provide phone tech support.

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