KidWind—Complex Wins the Competition
Twenty Virgin Islands students, representing eight territorial high schools, Saturday brought nine home-made wind turbines to Charlotte Amalie High School to see whose would produce the most electricity. The atmosphere in the gymnasium was often tense as Charlotte Amalie High School pulled ahead in the interview and presentation section, but Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral School make a big jump with its performance in the first wind tunnel tests. In the end it was St. Croix Education Complex team that took home the top trophy. Charlotte Amalie High School was second place and St. Peter and Paul was third.
Energy Office Director Karl Knight nicked named the tunnel where some of the turbines took a beating “Mrs. Windy.” Student were able to test their turbines in the morning after the interview section and before they were put in the tunnel to make official production readings.
Among those attending was Gov. John P. deJongh. He said “This is an important event because it brings the technology of the future to our students today.”
Knight said, “This brought our smart, technically minded youth out to demonstrate their innovativeness and ingenuity in the area of wind technology.”
He added, “A lot of valuable educative lessons came out of this project.”
The early visits to the wind tunnel brought a couple calamities as turbines fell over or blades came off. But the teams were allowed to make adjustments, and they did, before the real competition began in the afternoon.
Energy Office spokesperson Don Buchanan said, “This event was only possible because of the help of local sponsors. Many in our community realize that the Virgin Islands needs to resolve the problem of high energy costs and are willing to support efforts to help those who are ultimately going to solve the problem -- the youth.”
The University of Virgin Islands worked in the planning of production of the event. Other sponsors were The Avis, Offshore Energies, Water and Power Authority and Plaza Extra.
St. Croix schools with participating students included Manor School, St. Croix Educational Complex, St. Croix Career and Technical Education Center, and IQRA School. On St. Thomas the schools are Charlotte Amalie High School, St. Peter and Paul, All Saints Cathedral, and Antilles Schools.
The students were supplied with basic kits for the turbines, but were free to use innovative ideas and materials in creating the blades, the gear ratios, and the foundations for the turbines. Energy Office and University staff judged the design of the turbine as well as its efficiency. The wind tunnel operated at a speed of about 5 meters per second.
The Kidwind Project is affiliated with a national program. This is the first year for the program in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Energy Office hopes to expand the program so that in future years, the winners from the territorial competition will be able to move on and compete in the national competition.
The mission behind these Challenge Events include:
- Getting students excited about the promise and opportunities of renewable energy—specifically wind power—and its relationship to global climate change.
- Foster opportunities for students to build, test, explore, and understand wind energy technology at a manageable scale.
- Get students—particularly girls and underrepresented populations—excited about careers in STEM fields related to renewable energy.
- Build capacity of teachers, coaches, and other educators to better understand wind energy technology and development, as well as its promise and limitations.
- Connect students to mentors and role models in the renewable energy industry.
Bordeaux Market Gets Free Solar
Nothing is more natural than getting energy from the sun, so, naturally, at the Bordeaux Farmers Rastafarian Agricultural and Cultural Food Fair the agriculture community Saturday celebrated with spirit a new solar installation at the fairgrounds. There was handshaking, pats on the backs, hugs and applause.
The system, turned on and tested Thursday, was made possible by donations from the Virgin Islands Energy Office and Solential West Indies and its partners. The 4.5-kw photovoltaic system installed on the roof of the market shelter came at no cost to the farmers.
Sixty, 75-watt panels were provided by the Energy Office. Solential West Indies donated wiring, support racks, and labor. Chint Power donated the inverter. The system will be net metered and should provide a savings of approximately $285 a month.
The benefactor of these savings will be We Grow Food Inc. who operates out of the market. If We Grow Food had to install the system, it would have cost the organization over $20,000.
Commissioner Petersen said, “This contribution demonstrates the Administration’s continued commitment to the development of the farming community in the Virgin Islands.”
James Shaw, of Solential, said, “Solential is pleased to be able to contribute to a vibrant and fundamental part of the Virgin Island community.” He added, “We could not have done it with our partners -- Florida Welding, James Adams Electrical and Chint Power.”
Director Karl Knight, V. I. Energy Office, also commented on the partnerships that made the project possible. He said, “Our efforts to be self-sustainable in energy and with agriculture make all Virgin Islanders natural partners. “
Commissioner Louis Petersen, Jr., Department of Agriculture; Director Karl Knight, V. I. Energy Office; and James Shaw, Solential West Indies made brief statements to an audience of about 40 persons seated and others just passing by and enjoying the fair.
USVI EDIN Project Officially Ends
Efforts to Reach 60 % fossil fuel reduction by 2025 continue
The Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) initiative, which kicked off in the Virgin Islands in February 2010, is officially over. Karl Knight, Director of the Energy Office, announced at the 7th EDIN-USVI Clean Energy conference on St. Thomas on Dec. 12, the project, the product of an agreement signed by the U.S. Department of Interior, Gov. John P. de Jongh, Jr., and the U.S. Department of Energy, is transitioning to a local campaign falling under the theme of ViEnergize.
Knight recapped the progress the Virgin Islands has made towards the goals of the EDIN partnership. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed the USVI Energy Roadmap to suggest pathways to achieving Governor de Jongh’s goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption for electricity production 60 percent by the year 2025. He told the audience, that in the first three years of the EDIN partnership; the Water and Power Authority (WAPA) reduced oil consumption by over 11 percent. Knight presented an overview of the progress made in solar, wind, biomass, and energy efficiency deployment.
The conference was co-hosted by WAPA and Hugo Hodge, Executive Director of WAPA, who provided the opening remarks and answered questions throughout the day. WAPA staff gave presentations on automated metering initiatives, the savings realized from the conversion to reverse osmosis, and utility-scale solar projects in development.
Jennifer DeCesaro, Special Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, provided remarks on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. Basil Ottley, Virgin Islands
Field Officer, represented the U.S. Department of the Interior
Patricia Lord, Grants Program Coordinator at the Energy Office, spoke about the wind anemometer loan program in the Virgin Islands. Tim Brown, of Islands Wind Energy, described the 100 KWs wind turbine recently installed at Lorraine Village Apartments. Adam Warren, from NREL, provided the results of the measurements taken to determine if utility-scale wind development has potential in the territory. Tania Tomyn, of Tibbar Energy, spoke about the biomass energy project her company has under development to produce 7 MWs of power for WAPA. May Cornwall and Jim Grum, of the Waste Management Authority talked about energy-from-waste projects.
Several people spoke about energy efficiency projects. Doug Tischbein, of Energy Systems Group, talked about the savings realized through energy efficiency retrofits at the public schools and where further potential opportunities lie. Richard Elliot, of Vitol, provided information on the project to switch WAPA’s fuel supply to propane. Wayne Archibald talked about initiatives of the University of Virgin Islands’ Caribbean Green Technology Center. David McGeown, of McGeown & Associates, gave an update on the Water and Power Authority’s ViEnergize Energy Services business unit.
Wind energy tax credits extended, but solar may still win
The bill that avoided the "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of January included an extension of wind energy tax credits.
An industry report said there are 75,000 workers in wind energy and the continuation of the credits will save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, and revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country. The extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), and Investment Tax Credits for community and offshore projects, will allow continued growth of the energy source that installed the most new electrical generating capacity in America last year, with factories or wind farms in all 50 states.
The extension will cover
wind projects that start construction in 2013. It remains to be seen if a project can be started in the Virgin Islands by that time. Companies that manufacture wind turbines and install them sought that definition to allow for the 18-24 months it takes to develop a new wind farm.
The Virgin Island Energy Office is presently measuring wind resources on the islands to see if a wind farm here is feasible.
Wind set a new record in 2012 by installing 44 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in America, according to the Energy Information Administration, leading the electric sector compared with 30 percent for natural gas, and lesser amounts for coal and other sources.
However, solar residential credits will also be in effect this year and Bloomberg News predicts that, because of the low cost of panels, for the first time in many years, more solar compacity will be installed this year than wind.