Wind Test Center Continues to Grow
Construction activity was in high gear on April 1 at the High Plains Small Wind Test Center (HPSWTC) located 1.5 miles west of Colby Community College as three construction crews converged on the location. Representatives of Pika Energy installed new equipment on their 2 kW wind turbine which has been undergoing testing since December 2013. It is attached to a fiberglass monopole with a hub height of 57 feet. In addition, Dakota Wind Turbine is installing a turbine at the site.
The HPSWTC has a contract arrangement with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) of Colorado and is one of four regional testing centers established across the nation. The test site collects data on wind turbines with a swept area of less than 200 square meters. Data is gathered on four performance tests including power, duration, safety/function, and acoustic tests. The raw data is forwarded from the test site to Kansas State University where it is analyzed and submitted in a final report format to the manufacturer. The manufacturer submits this report to either the Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC) or Intertek for label certification. Upon certification, the wind turbine receives a label specifying the Power Rating, Annual kWh Rating, and Acoustic Rating. Testing of the turbines requires approximately six months.
The HPSWTC is a partnership among Kansas State University, Midwest Energy, and Colby Community College. Dr. Ruth Miller, KSU Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, is the overall Project Manager and Team Leader. She performs data analysis and reporting details. John Bloomfield, Associate Engineer for the Advanced Manufacturing Institute of KSU, selects and installs the software and test equipment located at the site. Barry Kaaz, Colby Community College, is the local test site manager collecting and forwarding data and coordinating construction of the turbines.
“We have more land available to test other turbines,” said Kaaz. “We are fortunate to be selected as one of the four test sites in the nation. The college offers Renewable Energy courses, workshops and certificates focusing on small wind energy and solar photovoltaic. In addition, one of the campus residence halls is partially powered by a wind turbine and Bedker Memorial Complex is partially powered by solar panels. The access to the Wind Test Center is another learning tool for our students. The small wind test site is just one of our numerous local and diverse components--research, education, private industry--of renewable energy enabling Thomas County to spearhead growth and development in this innovative field.”
Testing on wind turbines requires a minimum of six months duration and must be done in compliance with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) standards. Questions or manufacturers interested in certification may call Barry Kaaz at 785.462.0411.
Pika workers install new equipment on the 2 kW turbine. The lattice tower behind the turbine is the associated anemometer tower which records wind speed, direction, temperature and barometric pressure. In the background is the Dakota Wind Turbine tower in a horizontal position as the 30 kW turbine is attached. The Dakota features a hydraulic tower, fiber optic communication with its inverter, and a geothermal system used to cool the inverter.