2012-01-19 / News

Animations show 2 different sized turbines

BY HARLEY LEE

This week the Town Council is getting an update on the wind project. In addition to the results of the wind measurement program, they will be updated on wind turbine transportation, current projections of the economics of a medium and large turbine, and several photo simulations.

Transportation: The Town Council asked me to do some research on whether a heavy wind turbine could be transported to Jamestown. The Portsmouth Abbey 660-kilowatt wind turbine was transported by truck, but the 1,500-kilowatt Portsmouth High School turbine had to be transported by barge, as the bridges to Middletown weren’t strong enough. We have been analyzing similar turbines – a 600-kilowatt and a 2,000-kilowatt for Jamestown. The larger one has a nacelle that weighs 161,000 pounds. After numerous phone calls, it turns out that even this heavy load can be carried over the Jamestown Bridge.

The two biggest factors for most people in evaluating a wind turbine are the financial impacts and the visual impacts. These have both been updated.

Financial analysis: A financial analysis was done based on preliminary turbine, construction and electrical interconnect cost estimates. The purpose of this analysis was to compare the economics of a medium-sized turbine with that of the larger turbine. We’ll pick the best size for further analysis. The medium-sized turbine is cheaper to connect to the grid but the larger turbine produces four times as much energy. It turns out that the larger turbine has signifi- cantly better economics – even assuming worst-case electrical interconnect costs.

Visual impact: To help us evaluate the visual impact of a wind turbine, we hired a landscape architect with experience simulating wind turbines. We picked several key locations – including Route 138 near the tollbooth, East Shore Road, East Ferry and North Road near the old windmill. The R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority was kind enough to cover the costs of simulations from both bridges.

We waited for a sunny day and then shot the base photographs. The contractor then inserted the medium and large turbines into the photos to show what they’d look like. He even created an animation of each turbine from the North Road location. The still simulations will be posted on the town website.

The animations can be viewed on YouTube:

• Large turbine: youtube.com/ watch?v=03Tvo1iSqao

• Medium turbine: youtube.com/watch?v=81j6Zjvow0U

Perhaps the most notable difference between the two is that the larger wind turbine turns at a much lazier pace. The medium turbine takes two seconds per revolution while the big one takes a full four seconds for each revolution.

For the next steps, we’ll work on refining all our cost and revenue estimates. The costs with the greatest uncertainty now are the interconnect costs so we’ll work with our electrical engineer and National Grid to get definitive engineering and cost estimates for interconnecting. (We used worstcase figures in our estimates so far.) Once we have all these figures well understood, the town can make an informed decision on whether to proceed.

The author is president of Endless Energy Corporation, a consultant chosen by the Town Council in December to conduct studies necessary to determine the costs and potential profitability of a Jamestown wind turbine.

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