The Virgin Islands Energy Office will be sponsoring its second annual Kidwind Competion the spring of 2015. Watch for upcoming details.
KidWind—Complex Wins the Competition
Twenty Virgin Islands students, representing eight territorial high schools, in the Spring of 2014 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.
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.
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.
Church groundbreaking for Wind Turbine