Sustainability at Chesapeake

Frequently Asked Questions about the Wind Turbine

The wind turbine is located on the Wye Mills Campus, and is visible from Rt. 50

Live readings from the turbine (opens in a new window, may take some time to load)

As of November 2, 2011 at the ribbon cutting, the wind turbine had already produced 8,563 kWh of energy. This means 11,731 pounds of CO2 has already been diverted from the atmosphere (EPA 2006) - that is equivalent to planting 244 trees a year (Parks and People 2006).

Those numbers are based on these facts:

  • The average emission factor is 1.37 lbs of carbon dioxide per kWh (EPA 2006). [EPA] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 2006. "Personal Emissions Calculator." www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html. Washington, D.C.: EPA.
  • A tree is assumed to absorb 48 lbs of carbon dioxide each year (Parks and People 2006). Parks and People. 2006. "Benefits of Urban Trees." www.parksandpeople.org/publications/ special_reports/Benefits_of_Urban_Trees.pdf Baltimore, Md.: Parks and People.
What is the energy being used for?
The energy generated by the wind turbine is fed directly into the Higher Education Center.
Is it paying for the college's electric? Is it being sold back to the electric company?
The energy generated by the wind turbine does not affect the Wye Mills campus electric bill directly. The energy is fed directly to the Higher Education Building which is not on the campus electrical grid. The College invoices the Higher Education Center for the energy produced at a rate equivalent to the rate they would pay if the power was being generated by Delmarva Power and Light.
Is it run by a motor?
The wind turbine is driven by wind and the turbine converts the energy to electrical output.
Why does it stop sometimes even when it is windy?
The wind turbine will not turn unless there is a sustained wind of approximately 8 mph for a period of 4 minutes so gusty winds will not cause the turbine to turn.
What makes it turn and why?
The wind makes the turbine blades turn under low wind conditions (8 mph) due to the pitch/angle of the blades.
What determines it going on or off?
Again, the wind has to be at a sustained rate of 8 mph for a minimum of 4 minutes in order to turn blades.
Will it go really fast if it is really windy or is it controlled somehow to only go a certain speed?
It turns the same speed all the time. It has an internal brake that will shut the unit off when the wind speed exceeds 50 mph.
Will the college be getting another windmill?
The College will not be getting another windmill in the foreseeable future but will be investigating the possibilities of installing solar power to provide energy to the campus grid.
And how much power does it generate?
The unit is a 50 KW unit but the amount of electrical energy produced is directly associated with the amount of wind available to energize the unit. Based on a year of wind speed energy, determined by the anemometer (wind measuring device) that was installed at the College, the savings in dollars is projected to be in the range of $ 12,000.00 - $ 15,000.00/year.