VI Energy Office Puts in Wind Measuring Devices on St. Croix and St. Thomas
The U.S. Virgin Islands with technical assistance from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory this December moved closer to a clean energy future as wind and solar measuring devices were erected on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The project began at the Bovoni landfill on Dec. 4 and was completed on the eastern South Shore of St. Croix on Dec. 19. On each island one 60-meter, anemometer tower was erected and a SODAR device installed to measure wind using sonar. Each tower also has a solar pyrometer attached to it to measure solar irradiation.
Carl Joseph, energy analyst with the V.I Energy Office, which is overseeing the project says, “Overall, the project so far has been a success, the devices, when they went up, immediately began collecting data.”
The towers will stay in place and collect data for at least a year. Energy Office Director Karl Knight says, “The data collected will be used by the Water and Power Authority (WAPA) to develop plans for a utility scale wind farm.”
Knight, who is also a member of the WAPA Governing Board, adds, “We are very excited about the potential of wind development.”
Most of the $270,000 used to fund the project came from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds, but some local money also contributed. The project falls under the auspices of Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) initiative. Its USVI Energy Road Map, Charting the Course to a Clean Energy Future, calls for the reduction of fossil fuel use in the Virgin Island by 60 percent by 2025.
The Roadmap, produced by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is giving technical assistance to the Energy Office on this project; had three scenarios which could produce from 12 MW to 33 MW of wind power for the Virgin Islands.
Indications are that the sites being measured have enough wind to make sense for development: the data being gathered now is referred to as “bankable” data. In other words, it will increase the confidence of potential investors about the wind and solar resources on both islands.
“The goal of this project is to collect data that meets or exceeds North American industry standards for developable solar and wind projects to help attract potential developers of renewable energy projects.” says Joseph Roberts, senior wind engineer for NREL.
The towers are measuring winds speeds and direction at three different levels -- 35 meters; 47 meters and 57 meters.
SODAR is an acronym for Sonic Detection and Ranging. This type of measuring device has become more acceptable in recent years. The Energy Office believes that using SODAR in conjunction with the tower data will give precise and very reliable data.
The pyrometers will gather information that will be valuable to solar project developers. Most solar developers, when working on the Virgin Islands now, have to refer to solar irradiation data gathered in Puerto Rico. This new data will be specific for the U.S Virgin Islands.
Plans for how a third tower will be handled are already in motion. That tower could not be put up at this time because it was damaged.
Dr. David Smith, of the University of the Virgin Islands, will be the lead on monitoring the equipment and data and to keep the instrumentation working well.
For a report NREL published earlier this year regarding the opportunities for a wind farm on St. Thomas see. http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy12osti/55415.pdf.
For general information about the EDIN-USVI initiative see http://www.edinenergy.org/usvi.html.
Potential turbine locations on Bovoni Point, assuming a turbine with a 100 meter roto.
NREL Releases Report on Wind Opportunities in VI
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory released this month (September 2012) a report titled Wind Power Opportunities in St. Thomas, USVI; A Site-Specific Evaluation and Analysis. The report is a followup to the U.S. Virgin Islands Energy Road Map. It is intended to assist the terrritory in identifying and understanding actual development opportunites for wind power.After providing some initial background on wind power, generally, and in other island systems, it identifies potentail opportunities, assesses the current status of utility-scale wind power development in the USVI, and highlights what remains to be completed before a wind power plant can be built on St. Thomas.
The report also articulates a process that can be employed by the USVI and other island communities to identify, screen and analyze potention wind power sites. The process outlines the pieces that must be addressed to move a publicly owned project foward or demonstrate a significant commitment to external developers who may be hesitant to invest in island localities due to relatively high development costs and small project sizes, both of which increase developer risk.
The report points out that wind power became a commercial-scale industry more than 30 years ago and that, over time, it has moved from the fringes of the electric power sector to a mainstream resource responsible for 35 percent of new U.S. power capacity from 200t through 2011.
The report can be read here.
Wind Resources on the VI
To access data about wind resources in the U.S. Virgin Islands, click on one of the following links. The brochure includes data from anemometers placed on St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix. The Truewinds data is computer generated.