Wind powered flour mill

 

  • Example of a flour mill with more than half its power coming from a wind turbine.
  • It probably is sustainable.
  • Have the vision.
  • Doing the wind homework.

By Bill Butterworth

11 March 15


 

 

Wind_Turbine_Nov_2014

This flour mill in Kansas, USA, has 65% of its total electrical power provided by the turbine in the photograph. Photo courtesy of Stafford County Flour Mills. Kansas is good with wind. How is your site? How do you know?

Despite my frequent warnings that not all renewable energy is sustainable, some of it really does make sense. As an example, Karl Ohm, editor, from First Quarter 2015 Milling Journal, reports “Besides being one of the best wheat growing areas in the United States, Kansas ranks consistently as one of the top two states in terms of total wind capacity for generating economically from wind turbines, according to the US Dept of Energy.” Ohm goes on to report on the facility in the picture above of a wind-powered flour mill. (Photo courtesy of Stafford County Flour Mills.) The mill reported in Milling Journal has a storage capacity of 3.4 million bushels and the development of wind power was to generate electricity sustainably for the production of “2,400 cwt per day of certified organic flour”. Well, the 850 kW turbine meets 65% of the facilities total electricity demand.  You can read the full report at http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk//launch.aspx?pbid=2b069177-755d-46eb-ae0d-874d01288b93&pnum=46

So, does it work and is it really sustainable? Well, at this distance, I am not in a position to prove it with specific evidence one way or the other. However, Milling Journal is a long established and respected journal, not given to anything but correct, factual reporting without wild claims. Secondly, the US Dept of Energy does recognise the geographic area as one of potentially good generation characteristics from wind turbines. Thirdly, some of the USA-based university surveys do indicate that well sited, well maintained wind turbines can deliver a lifetime output several times their total energy input to manufacture, commission and decommission.

So, this example probably is what it claims to be; economically sustainable and environmentally sustainable.

What’s the lesson? Have the vision, do the homework. Have the courage to act on the evidence; do it or get off it.

Wind homework

Back in February, I went to the “Energy Now” exhibition in Telford, UK. I went on the Met Office stand. As a follow up I had an e-mail summarising what they could do to assist in the homework.

So here it is.

1) Virtual Met Mast and Virtual Met Mast Plus – site wind assessment to support site search/screening, selection and development activities. We also generate 30 years of hourly time series wind speed and direction. A sample report can be found at  http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/renewables/vmm and more case studies on VMM at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/renewables/standards. Also attached is the latest verification report which details the method of producing the report and data – and the results of the verification against live site data. 2) VisualEyes – site specific weather forecasts web based application – up to 2 weeks out – for health and safety and operational planning resulting in major operational cost saving benefits. 3) Wind Production Forecast – a site specific short term wind forecast – up to 2 weeks – but most normally used for next 24/36 hours as input to power forecast models for grid energy balancing and/or supporting trading activities.

4) Solar Production Forecast – a site specific short term wind forecast – up to 2 weeks – but most normally used for next 24/36 hours as input to power forecast models for grid energy balancing and/or supporting trading activities.

5) Site Specific Solar Report – a site specific solar assessment to support site search/screening, selection and development activities.

Contact details are;

Amy Evans

Account Manager – Renewables

Met Office. FitzRoy Road, Exeter.  EX1 3PB

Tel : +44 (0)1392 885317

Mobile: +44 (0)7867 958467

www.metoffice.gov.uk