Unity Focus

Measuring Maine’s Wind Energy

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Unity Fishbowl Talks is a colloquium series for Unity College faculty and invited outside speakers to discuss ideas on pedagogy and to present their scholarly work.

Thursday, February 27
12:00 pm in in PW 204
Mick Womersley, Unity College Professor of Human Ecology

Measuring Maine’s Wind Energy: The State Wind Survey and the Future of Maine Renewable Energy"

Unity College faculty, staff and students were part of a statewide wind survey campaign from 2006 to 2013. A large database of anemometric data was created. This is the largest collection of wind data pertaining to Maine wind power resource that is currently available to the public and state officials. Systematically higher than expected wind shear was found, especially on wooded sites. The data show that Maine’s high hub height (80 meters or more above ground level) wind resource is systematically understated in wind maps, while the low hub height resource is systematically overstated. This has translated historically to over-optimism about, and overselling of, small-scale household turbines, while large-scale turbines (> 80 or 100 m) engender unrealistically low production expectations in the general public and officials during planning processes, and may be under-taxed as a partial result. The survey data are consistent with recent findings from other wooded areas of the United States and Europe, and with recent increases in the scale of turbine equipment employed by wind power development firms. We discuss the use of the new data in advanced wind mapping and related applications. We summarize broad implications for the community-based development of renewable energy and the cost-effective mitigation of climate pollution in Maine and New England.

Mick Womersley came to Unity College to help develop the sustainability programs in the year 2000. He teaches classes in climate change, sustainability, economics, and energy. His current research interests are in wind power assessment and mapping. Each summer he runs a field program in wind measurements to support this work, using students as crew members. He is also the faculty advisor to the Unity College Search and Rescue Team, Resource Officer for Maine Search and Rescue, and co-editor of the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Association's annual journal "On the Hill".
 
Tuesday, February 25, 2014