Is Wind Power Feasible in Waco? Baylor Engineers Build Wind Survey Tower to Find Out

Aug. 25, 2010

Tower placed near the Education Service Center Region 12 on Highway 6

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In an effort to see if wind-generated power is feasible in Waco, Baylor University researchers have built a tower with several wind-measuring devices on the property of the Education Service Center (ESC) Region 12 on Highway 6, a location that provides one of the highest elevations in the area.

Waco supposedly does not have enough sustained high winds to make wind power feasible, however it has never been officially measured. The Baylor survey tower will gather data over a year to find whether Waco has enough high velocity wind to make wind-generated power feasible.

"We have wind data from the Waco airport, but we need site-specific wind data where the turbine would actually be placed to determine if wind-generated power is feasible at that location," said Dr. Kenneth Van Treuren, professor of mechanical engineering at Baylor in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, who is leading the study with several undergraduate students. "We are interested in knowing the power of the undisturbed air flow coming into the tower. Once we know that, we can optimize a turbine and its blades to that wind speed to make it cost effective."

The 100-foot-tall tower has three measuring devices at different heights: 50 feet, 75 feet and 100 feet. The devices will record the wind speed and direction at each of the three heights every hour for one year. Van Treuren said the data will allow researchers to compile a wind profile of Waco. Currently, the average wind speed in Waco is thought to be about 10 miles per hour. An average of 25 miles per hour is typically needed to make wind power cost effective, he said.

It is estimated that a small 100-kilowatt wind turbine placed on the ESC Region 12 site could provide about one-half of the electrical needs of the educational building. The researchers said that once they know the average speed, they could design a turbine and blade system that would be cost effective to the area.

"We are excited to be a part of an innovative project with a premier university that may help us cut operating costs and model green efforts for our customers," said Dr. Tom Norris, executive director for ESC Region 12. "This project also fits perfectly with our initiative to continuously improve our environmental footprint."

Funding for the survey tower and the measuring devices came from Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement (URSA) Small Grant Program and the Office of the Vice Provost of Research at Baylor.

Media contact: Frank Raczkiewicz, Assistant Vice President of Media Communications, 254-710-1964.

About ESC Region 12

One of 20 regional education service centers statewide, the Education Service Center Region 12

(ESC Region 12) is dedicated to serving school districts, charter schools and area private/parochial schools in improving student performance. ESC Region 12 partners with school districts to deliver services and solutions to educators so they may help all children be successful.

Based in Waco, with satellite offices in Corsicana, Hamilton, Nolanville, and Teague, the ESC Region 12's service area includes Bell, Bosque, Coryell, Falls, Freestone, Hamilton, Hill, Lampasas, Limestone, McLennan, Mills, and Navarro counties.

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