Measuring Maine’s Wind Energy
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.
“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.