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Publication Title | Wind Tower Economics 103

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Wind

Tower

Economics 103

Mick Sagrillo

©1994 Mick Sagrillo The amount of power produced by

any renewable energy technology

is, to a great extent, a function of the quality of the fuel resource being used: wind, sun, or water. The higher the “quality” of your fuel, the more power your site specific electron generator will crank out.

Recap Recap

In Tower Economics 101 (HP#37), we defined turbulence and ground drag and why each is detrimental to the production of wind-generated electricity. We then examined the relationship of height above ground and wind speed, and how the power available to a wind generator increases with wind speed.

In Tower Economics 102 (HP#38), we compared the incremental cost of taller towers versus the incremental increases in power generated by the wind system on those taller towers. Depending on the system size, incremental tower costs varied between just under 5% to just over 8% of the cost of the entire system. Yet those same tower increases yielded a whopping 24% to 38% in additional incremental power output!

The Dilemma

I don’t know of any other investment that offers those kinds of dividends. Yet, folks continuously resist installing tall towers for their wind generators. And for good reason. I’m not all that fond of heights either. However, the numbers don’t lie.

In this article (part three of a two part series, and the last one I promise), we’ll take a look at a few poorly sited installations with inadequate tower heights and the consequences. To cover various generator sizes that might be installed by a home power producer, we’ll analyze three different sized wind systems installed in three different locations by three different individuals. As different as these three examples are, however, the mistakes by the installers are unfortunately the same.

Photo 1

We’ll start out small, and use myself as the first example of what not to do.

Mick’s Marlec

The first system incorporates a micro-wind generator, a Furlmatic, manufactured by Marlec Engineering in England. It is rated at 140 Watts in a 36 mph wind. The Marlec mounts on a 2 inch water pipe, which is typically sold in 21 foot lengths. This machine was installed next to our shop for testing purposes. For a load, we can connect the Furlmatic to an automotive headlight, a car battery, or three electrolyzers to produce hydrogen.

Figuring that most people with a machine this size would probably install it on a very short tower, we bought two 21 foot lengths of galvanized water pipe for the Furlmatic to perch on. With this, we fabricated a 42 foot tilt-up tower that is guyed at two heights on the pipe. Anchors were installed, guy cables attached, wire was run down the tower and into the shop, the Marlec bolted on, and up she went.

In a light breeze, the Furlmatic aimed straight to the wind and produced a few watts. In a day or so, the winds picked up to a steady 35 mph, just about at the

26 Home Power #39 • February / March 1994

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