Chatham’s Eden Hall campus has taken great strides to be completely sustainable, but there is still more that the institution can do to reach the goal of truly being 100% renewable. As seen in figures 1-3 in Leah Whitacre’s post, we still have deficits that require us to pull from the fossil fuel-powered grid.
Eden Hall has historically invested in solar as its main renewable energy source because it is much more cost-efficient than wind, however in an area that has limited solar potential, particularly in the wintertime, it presents issues of limited power being produced and thus Chatham relies on natural gas to power our campus.
We can break this reliance on fossil fuels through the further integration of wind energy into our energy production.
Recently we have invested in a Windstax vertical turbine, which you can learn more about in this video by Chatham! The system is quiet, easy to use, and can produce up to 4000w (continuous) and 11,336 – 18,330 kWh per year for a medium-sized system.
I would like to propose that Eden Hall invests in building a small wind farm to power our campus and obtain the ability to be 100% renewable. This would assist in powering our campus during times when there is a lack of sun available, and we would be able to use net metering to sell back to the grid when there is excess energy available. Considering Eden Hall’s region of Pennsylvania doesn’t have the most ideal wind potential, a partnership with solar would be needed. However our campus does benefit from the fact that it is on the highest peak in Allegheny County, and so there is greater wind potential than most of the region. (WindExchange, 2020)
The most ideal way to do this would be through investing in more of the Windstax vertical turbine.
It’s local, it provides data, it acts as a generator in times of need, and most importantly we already have experience with the system, so it would be easy to integrate 2-6 more systems into our community if the funding was available. Another way of doing this would be to invest in a new system, such as the Vortex bladeless wind generator.
The Vortex is a 2.75-meter tall rotational generator that uses the wind to make a slim cone-like structure swing back and forth to use the aerodynamic effect of vortex shedding to generate electricity through an alternator system. Additionally, it also has no avian mortality due to its bladeless design. (Vortex, 2020) The low maintenance, virtually silent system seems like a perfect fit for any campus, however, it has not yet been available for purchase. The operation is in its final stages of production and seeks partners to make the system more widely available. At its current stage it can produce up to 100w per unit, but Vortex plans to make the system low cost and affordable so it may be accessible and suitable for wind farms. (Vortex, 2020) A partnership or investment in Vortex would be a way of showing dedication to diversity and creativity in the many forms of renewable energy and would be a teaching tool to showcase new and non-traditional forms of wind energy.
Learn more about Vortex by checking out this video and comment your thoughts about these suggestions for Eden Hall below!
“Solar power, wind power, the way forward is to collaborate with nature – it’s the only way we are going to get to the other end of the 21st century.” ~ Bjork