As reported in last Friday’s Virginian-Pilot, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story commemorated Earth Day by commissioning three residential-style wind turbines. The units selected were the Skystream 3.7, rated at 400 kWh/mo. Therefore, the total rated capacity is 1200 kWh/mo of renewable energy. If the project simply stopped there, it might have amounted to a “feel good” project, but additional plans include the installation of photovoltaic arrays. This is a very small part of the U.S. Navy’s determination to derive 50 percent of its total energy needs met through non-polluting, renewable energy by 2020.
Small wind turbines represent an increasing segment of the alternative energy market. Of course, your site must be suitable for wind energy in order for anyone to derive any benefit. In the case of JEB Little Creek-Fort Story, these turbines are placed close to the shore, in line with consistent coastal breezes. In fact, initial readings exceed the rated capacity (500 kWh vs. 400).
According to Kevin Pepper, the base resource efficiency manager, the small wind turbines are merely a test project. As these systems prove themselves, the turbines will pave the way for more distributed power generation throughout the facility.
I looked into the manufacturer’s web site (http://www.skystreamenergy.com/products/skystream/skystream-3.7#upclose) and found some interesting features. For one, the static inverter is housed within the nacelle. Control and monitoring is linked via wireless 2-way remote system that provides a simplified user interface on a personal computer. The system uses a down-wind turbine configuration, simplifying control. The entire set of three turbines cost $89,000.