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Well then, you've come to the right place! See how wind energy projects are developed, find answers to your wind questions, learn about our resources, and use our tools to determine the expected wind resource at your location.
Analyze wind resource characteristics across Pennsylvania with the new Saint Francis University Wind Explorer. Easily find the average annual wind speed and other data for any site you choose. Data at 30 m is available for free (great if you are looking to install a small wind turbine). Data from 10 to 100 meters is also available. Data from and site created and maintained by AWS Truepower. Start exploring now!
See below to learn more about wind energy and the services offered by the REC.
The wind maps depict the annual average wind speed at a given height and location. Wind speeds vary throughout the day and throughout the year, so the maps provide a summary that can help you determine whether it is worth pursuing further analysis at your site.
Wind projects in areas with low wind speeds are typically not profitable. This does not mean they are impossible, but it does mean your motivation must be more than financial for the project to be worthwhile.
Wind speed is a critical feature of the wind resource, because the available energy in the wind is proportional to the cube of the wind speed. This means that by doubling the wind speed we do not double the power in the wind, but get eight times the power. So, a site with an average wind speed of 15 mph has the potential to contain eight times the energy of a site with an average wind speed of 7.5 mph. This means that the location of the turbine, on your property and in terms of height, is absolutely essential to getting the most power out of your system.
The maps were created using DeLorme XMap GIS Editor or Esri ArcMap software and wind data originally generated for Pennsylvania (50 m) or the REC (30 m, 100 m) by AWS Truepower, an engineering and meteorological consulting firm based in Albany, New York.
The 50m map data was provided to the REC previously. It depicts wind speeds by wind power class (Class 2 = 12.5 to 14.3 and class 3 = 14.3 and above). In 2013, the REC received a grant to purchase 30 and 100 m map data. This data was presented by wind speed instead of class. The REC has worked to make the two different scale versions as similar as possible. While the 50 and 100 m maps only show blue and orange layers, at 30m, the REC has introduced a coloring scheme at 10.1-12.3 mph, as few locations exhibit annual average wind speeds exceeding that range.
See more on the page below as well as our starting a project page.
Submit your information to receive a preliminary site assessment.Name: Email: Phone: Location of Potential Project:
Why Are You Interested in Wind Energy?
The Renewable Energy Center runs Pennsylvania's only Anemometer Loan Program. This wind assessment service allows landowners to learn if their site has commercial wind potential. If our pre-feasibility analysis indicates there is utility scale wind potential at the site, the landowner will qualify to rent our equipment. Studies typically measure the resource for a minimum of 12 months. The REC then will analyze the data, extrapolate the data to different heights, and report the amount of power that would have been generated over that period with a variety of wind turbines.
An anemometer is a device used for measuring wind speed. It can be installed on a meteorological (met) tower. Wind direction vanes and temperature sensors are typically included as well.
The REC would be glad to assist you in determining the wind resource at your location. We have 60 meter tall NRG Now System XHD met towers available to loan. We also have a Second Wind Triton sodar unit, which measures wind speed and other data through sound waves.
Learn about current pricing and equipment availability by contacting REC staff through the form at right, via email: email@example.com, or by calling: 814-472-2872.
Discover more about our program and wind energy in the sections below.
Allows utility customers to generate their own electricity from renewable resources. The customers send excess electricity back to the utility when their system produces more power than they need.
Community wind is large-scale wind power typically owned by public or private entities for on-site usage or sale to the grid (net-metering). Projects can consist of one to several turbines and produce 100 kilowatts – 10 megawatts (enough power for 10 – 2,500 homes respectively). The key feature of community wind is local ownership which maximizes local benefit. Project costs are typically $300,000 - $3 million plus dollars and can take 5 – 7 years to put together. The long-term benefits to the community, measured in energy security, increased revenue, and solidarity, however, last a lot longer.
There has been an incredible amount of interest in the Community Wind Project since its establishment by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in 2005. We've received over 600 applications from nearly every county in Pennsylvania. We have had 12 wind assessment projects in 7 counties and each site has collected a full 12 months of data. See the map and data below. Interested in more details about a site or the raw data? Please contact us.
In 2006, the REC began data collection at a site in northern Cambria County, near the borough of Patton, PA. Learn how this assessment led to the development of a 15 turbine wind farm.
In September of 2005, the REC received an application to measure the wind resource in agricultural land to the north and west of Patton. A review of our wind maps indicated the potential for class 3 wind speeds (14.3 - 15.7 mph [in blue]) at 50 meters above the surface, enough to support utility scale wind turbines. After permits were approved and reviews completed, a 50 meter NRG meteorological tower was installed at an elevation of 2,220 feet (near the blue area on the above wind map - in orange above the 'ed' in Saint Benedict). The tower was placed in an open field away from obstructions. Pictured above is a view from the base of the tower looking north (the lines to the right are guy wires helping to support the tower). The tower collected data beginning in June of 2006 and continued to do so until collection ended in March 2008. The tower was removed in April 2008.
To have a through understanding of the wind resource at a location, it is best to collect at least one year's worth of data. In chart one, average wind speed, notice that wind speeds are stronger during winter months than they are during mid to late summer. In the second chart, diurnal wind speed, notice that wind speeds are slightly stronger during nighttime hours. Below, the third chart, wind direction frequency, shows that the wind comes predominately from the west and southwest at this site. The fourth chart shows that wind speeds of 10 to 14 m.p.h. were the most commonly occurring.
With an average annual wind speed of 15.3 mph measured at the site, the center moved forward with a request for proposals to potentially install a wind farm at the site. Tasks to development included 1) permitting (including environmental and interconnection to the grid), 2) public review, 3) securing a power purchase agreement, 4) securing financing, 5) equipment procurement, 6) construction contracts, 7) construction, 8) maintenance contracts. Through a competitive process, OwnEnergy, Inc. was selected to move forward with the project. The developer worked with local farmers Marty and Rick Yahner to gain the support of landowners and determine where the turbines would be placed.
EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc. purchased the project from OwnEnergy in late 2011. The wind farm was in operation at the end of 2012 (see photo gallery below and visit our Facebook Page for more). Photos courtesy of Marty Yahner. Learn more about OwnEnergy's and EverPower's roles in this project at their respective websites and see more photos.
Have a question? Find the answer here. Don't see your question? Let us know.
In Pennsylvania, wind resource is strongly related to elevation, so the higher you are in elevation the better the wind resource. Generally properties with 1,500 - 2,000+ of elevation are best suited for wind energy. You can put a wind turbine just about anywhere and it will generate electricity. . .the question is how much and if the result satisfies your financial goals and other desired results.Your annual average wind speed should be at least 10 - 12 miles per hour. To help assess your wind resource, see our wind maps. If you are seeking to develop a community or utility-scale project, check out our Anemometer Loan Program services.
A residential wind system can cost as little as $3,000 for a very small turbine or over $50,000 for a system that can fully power your home. Typical installed costs can range from $15,000 - $20,000 for a 1.8 kilowatt turbine to $50,000 - $60,000 for a 10 kilowatt turbine that can power your home. Bear in mind that you do get what you pay for, therefore an inexpensive turbine will not produce significant amounts of electricity. The amount of power you get depends on your resource. Elements of an installed system include the cost of the turbine, the cost of the tower, and the cost of the installation. Do not skimp on the tower height as the taller the tower, the better the resource and the more electricity you will produce.
Most of the commercial-scale turbines installed today are 2 MW in size and cost roughly $3.5 million installed. How a project will be financed, owned, and operated can be just as critical to success as wind resource. Contact us for guidance.
How much money you save depends on how much electricity you produce and what your cost of electricity is. You wouldn’t fill a bucket with water if the bucket were full of holes. Before you invest in a renewable energy system, you should make your home or business as efficient as possible. Efficiency means getting the same benefit with less electricity. For example a laptop computer uses less than half of the electricity as a desktop computer. A compact fluorescent light bulb uses 75% less energy than an incandescent bulb. Conservation refers to your actions, what we call the COPs - cheap, obvious, and profitable: turning things off when not in use unplugging devices that use energy even when they are not on lowering your thermostat and water heater when you’re not around. These changes alone can save you 10% - 20% on your energy bills—around $300 dollars a year! The experts at Homepower Magazine claim that every dollar spent on efficiency and conservation will save you three to five dollars on your solar, wind or hydro system. So if you spend $200 to do an extreme green makeover of your home or business—that’s $1,000 you saved on your renewable energy system (because now it doesn’t have to be as large since your energy demand decreased).
Beginning in the mid-2000s, investor-owned utilities in Pennsylvania were required to begin accepting electricity generated by individual consumers. Alternative Energy Credits may also be available. Before beginning a project, be it wind or otherwise, be sure to inform your utility so that you can plan accordingly for any requirements you may need to meet in order to connect your system to the grid. Learn more: DSIRE: Net Metering Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards
Visit our PA Renewable Energy Center Business Directory for tips on this. It is recommended that you compare multiple companies before you make a decision. Make sure to base your decision on equal offerings (for example: the same style of turbine at the same height, etc.).
See our starting a renewable energy project page for financial resources. If you are looking to develop a community scale project, ask about our financing tool.
Generally speaking, for a small wind turbine, you need at least a 1/2 acre of open land where you can mount the turbine on a tower (though this depends on local zoning and regulations). Larger turbines will need several acres of open land during installation. Once complete, the space requirement will typically shrink, allowing activities such as farming to occur around the turbine. A wind farm, consisting of many wind turbines, may span hundreds of acres.
A typical home uses approximately 9400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity.The size of your turbine depends on your resource, your energy consumption, and how much power you want to produce. Invest in energy efficiency first and never skimp on the height of the tower.
The amount of electricity you want to produce and space requirements are just a few of many factors that should factor into finding the optimal turbine for your site. The Small Wind Certification Council has established criteria to test small wind turbines in a standardized form and then report the results on an "apples-to-apples" basis. Annual energy, sound, and power ratings are provided for each certified model.
Whether enrolled in the SWCC or not, it is important to conduct a thorough review of each turbine and manufacturer you are considering before making a decision, as the small wind industry continues to change and evolve.
Links: HomePower: Is Wind Electricity Right for You? Mother Earth News: Wind Power: Are Vertical Axis Turbines Better?
This varies by township. Contact your local township office and ask if your township has a residential and/or utility wind ordinance. See an example PA Model Ordinance.
An annual or bi-annual inspection is usually recommended for small wind turbines. Check your instruction manual for a maintenance schedule and guidelines. It is important to monitor the health of your wind turbine on a continual basis. If you hear or see something abnormal, it is important to address the problem to limit damage to your machine. Remember to use extreme caution around the turbine and to leave tasks such as climbing and electrical work to professionals.
Utility scale wind turbines require maintenance on a regular basis. Wind farms typically have a dedicated staff to complete this task.
Studies on this issue in the U.S. have generally found that there is very little, if any, change in the value of a property near a wind turbine, such as an August 2013 publication by the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which studied over 50,000 home sales in nine states where turbines were within 10 miles of the property. Also see this paper for a summary of previous studies.
Wind turbines, like all electricity sources, can have both positive and negative impacts on the environment. On the positive side, wind turbines emit no pollution, generate no waste, require no mining for fuel, and use negligible amounts of water. They have a small footprint and the land around them can still be used for farming or forests. On the negative side, turbines and their access roads can fragment habitat. Unless carefully constructed and maintained, the roads can lead to erosion. The turbines must be properly sited to avoid avian migratory paths and bats. Turbines are also sometimes noted for producing noise and causing a shadow flicker. Some people enjoy seeing wind turbines, viewing them as kinetic sculpture and some find them aesthetically unpleasing.Learn more: Environmental Impacts and Siting of Wind Projects
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established voluntary land-based wind energy guidelines for wind energy projects. The Guidelines use a 'tiered approach' for assessing potential adverse effects to species of concern and their habitats," according to the guideline's executive summary. The guidelines provide an outline for understanding the characteristics of a site and monitoring the area before, during, and after construction of a wind farm. See the US. Fish and Wildlife Service's webpage for information about interactions between wind and wildlife. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has developed a Wind Energy Voluntary Cooperative Agreement with wind developers. They try to monitor, understand, and reduce impacts of the development of wind in the commonwealth. Information related to the agreement and reports are available at the PGC's website.
Before a wind turbine can be installed, an obstruction evaluation/ airport airspace analysis (OE/AAA) may need to be completed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Structures over 200 feet above ground level and those within close proximity to an airport, among others, must be reviewed.Learn more: FAA Wind Turbine FAQs
Wind turbines in close proximity to a radar unit may interfere with an accurate reading. When the National Weather Service's NEXRAD dopplar radar detects motion (such as rain), it concludes that it is precipitation. The radar cannot differentiate between precipitation and a wind turbine, so a weather map may appear to have rain at a wind farm when it is actually sunny. In Pennsylvania you may notice this effect on weather maps in Cambria and Blair Counties. Learn more: How Rotating Wind Turbine Blades Impact The Nexrad Doppler Weather Radar
A windmill is a device used to pump water or grind grain. A wind turbine generates electricity, although these machines are commonly referred to as windmills as well.
Turbine towers can be over 300 feet tall and have blades more than 150 feet long. This means that when a blade tip reaches it's peak height, it can be 450 feet, or more, in the air.
A small wind turbine may generate enough electricity to power anywhere from a light bulb up to several houses, depending on the size and the speed of the wind. A utility scale turbine can power hundreds of homes when operating in optimal wind speeds. For example, EverPower, operator of the Patton Wind Farm in Cambria County, states that the 15 2 MW turbines at the project generate "enough electricity to power approximately 7,000 homes annually."
The electricity produced by a wind turbine may be used on-site or sent to the grid.
A few reasons a wind turbine might not be spinning is if the wind speed is not strong enough, if maintenance is being performed on the machine, if there is not a need for electricity (this occurs when the turbine could be producing electricity, but the gird does not need it - a process called curtailment), or if it is a migration time for birds or bats and the turbine is in a flyway.
According to the Department of Energy, people may have been using wind power since 5,000 B.C. for sailing. By 200 B.C., it is believed that windmills were being used to pump water and grind grain. It allowed people to sail the oceans and explore the world. In the late 1800s, millions of windmills could be found in the United States pumping water. Even here in Pennsylvania, windmills were a common sight up to the 1920s and 30s and there were nearly a dozen manufacturers producing windmill models at one time or another. The Rural Electrification Act of 1936 brought electricity to rural places, limiting the use of wind power in mid-century. Commercial wind farms have developed over the past fifty years and can now produce large amounts of power.
The first wind farm constructed in Pennsylvania was the Green Mountain Wind Energy Center in Garrett, Somerset County. It began operating in May of 2000, according to PennFuture.
PennFuture has a list of wind farms on their website. Pennsylvania exceeded 1,000 MW of installed capacity in 2012.
The American Wind Energy Association maintains a list of wind energy facts, including the number of U.S. wind turbines.
The REC has sponsored research by faculty and students from business, sociology, history, communications, biology, computer science, math, and more. A sampling of projects are listed below. If you are interested in conducting research with the REC, let us know!
Faculty advisor John Lamertina and students Alex Yeisley and Tim Gaborek took eight weeks in the summer of 2007 to write a computer program, called BREEZE, that automates wind data analysis taking raw data, analyzing it for errors, and producing easily understandable graphs and tables—at the stroke of a button. They worked closely with professional meteorologist Ed McCarthy of Wectec, Inc., a California-based firm specializing in meteorological analysis services. The graphs they produce, such as the one shown of Mean Average Wind Speed at 3 Different Heights, are identical to those produced by Mr. McCarthy.
The Anemometer Loan Program gathers data for typically a 12-month period of time. Gathering data for only a year produces a question: How does this year compare to other years for wind at or near the proposed site? Was it a good year, a bad year or an average year? Without a historical context, the program has no way of validating the accuracy of the data. The purpose of this project by Dr. John Harris and Kurt Hoffman was to develop a baseline historical wind comparison platform such that present and future ALP sites can have greater confidence in their wind assessment. The project analyzed archived wind data for a comparative regional airport, Johnstown Regional Airport, as a validation and correlation measure for collected wind data.
Results: The Case of 1998
The University now has a database for Johnstown Regional Airport that monitors wind speed, direction and temperature which is being used to validate the wind data collected and analyzed by the ALP. One client whose site demonstrated a poor wind resource has already asked the question answered by this research: “How do you know if it wasn’t just a bad year?” We now have a very good answer to that question.
An example of the importance of their work is illustrated in the graph above that shows that 1998 was an anomalous year. In the 10 year test of 1998, the mean wind speed from 1998 was 16% lower than the Mean Wind Speed over the 10 year period. Because wind speed translates into power for a wind turbine, this 16% is a significant difference. Wind speed is cubed in order to determine power output. Hypothetically speaking, a site that normally has a mean wind speed of 20 MPH would have data collected in an anomaly year of 16.8 MPH, a 16% difference. This is a 41% drop in power output over that anomaly year. So a 16% reduction in wind speed is approximately a 40% reduction in power!
In short, wind speed matters and knowing whether the wind speed is congruent with historic trends validates the resource and adds value to the service the CWP provides. Further work with historic wind data from airports in Northeast and Northwest Pennsylvania is needed to validate data collected inthose wind areas.
The purpose of this research was to identify and monitor bird activity at two potential community wind farm sites in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. After two months of studying the birds at these sites, 42 bird species were observed at one site and 29 species at the other. All of the species at both sites were determined to be breeding or potentially breeding.
None of these species were listed as federally or state threatened or endangered. However, there were five species of conservational interest and two species of regional rarity found at one site, and two conservation interest and one regional rarity species found at the other. Additionally, five species on Audubon’s 2007 “List of the Top 20 Birds With the Greatest Population Decline Since 1967” were found at both sites.View a sample report
ObjectivesTwo local farms in Cambria County, Pennsylvania have been identified by the Saint Francis University Renewable Energy Center’s ALP as potentially viable for wind energy development. The overall environmental risks at these sites have not yet been investigated, so the purpose of our study was to complete an assessment of avian use—what bird species inhabit the sites, when they are present, and how they are using the site (e.g., nesting, migrating, foraging). This will help the landowners and developers to understand any drawbacks to constructing a community-scale wind project on their farm. The data collected will also provide a better understanding of the potential effects a wind farm could have on certain bird species at a site—for example, displacement of bird species from their breeding grounds.
MethodologyThe methodology was developed in consultation with Richard Curry of Curry & Kerlinger, a firm specializing in avian assessments for the wind energy industry. Also utilized was the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Voluntary Agreement for Wind Energy Developer.The study took place on two local farms in Cambria County, PA during the months of May and June 2007. Our sampling times ranged from early morning to late at night. This was done to get a well-rounded data set for all times of the day. Each site was assessed prior to the initial study to determine how the site would be divided into sub-sites. The first site, the larger of the two was divided into seven sub-sites. They ranged from open grassland and farmland to wooded areas and aquatic habitats (a stream and two ponds). The second site was divided up into five different sub-sites. Four of them were in open farm fields by the meteorological tower, and one was located in the woods west of the tower.On each sampling day, an “area-search” method was used to study the site. For this method, we spent 30 minutes at each sub-site identifying and studying as many birds as we could during that time period. The observer then rotated to a new site. The order of sub-site visited was varied to account for the time of day and the number of observers. We also noted any nests that were found at the sites. Bird species were determined to be breeding if they exhibited any of the behaviors used by biologists to establish avian breeding status for the Second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas.
The purpose of this literature review project was to identify the major social, economic, policy, and environmental issues in renewable energy with a concentration on community acceptance of wind energy initiatives. The project, conducted by Dr. Lening Zhang and Dr. Teelyn Mauney of the The Rural Center for Applied Social, Health and Behavioral Research, involved conducting a systematic search and review of publications in professional journals to provide a comprehensive summary of the issues. A study of 320 journal articles indicated that professional publications on renewable energy, particularly in wind energy, have increased significantly. These articles have addressed a wide range of policy, economic, social, and environmental issues. Although a large number of the articles have concentrated on policy and economic issues in renewable energy, the number of professional publications on social issues, especially on social issues involving wind energy has been rising since 2000.
The use of wind power in Pennsylvania was actually relatively common in the late 1800s and early 1900s, as electricity lines did not yet extend to rural areas. A student interviewed individuals who remembered wind power.
Use of the REC's materials (including wind maps, data, and other content) for anything other than general information is solely at the risk of the user. The Saint Francis University Renewable Energy Center and its funders may not be held liable for any loss, damage or other consequence resulting from the use of the maps and/or data contained on this website, our wind explorer, or through other interactions with the REC. Remember to take proper safety precautions when pursing any project.
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