Air Force Sheild Sustainability Toolkit
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Design Strategies

 

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Design Strategies section image
  Design Strategies :: Wind Generator
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Wind Generator

See Strategy in ActionWind generators or wind turbines are a renewable energy source that does not require fossil fuels
or produce any emissions. Financial benefits of wind generators can be realized through decreased utility costs, specifically electricity. Zero emission output not only helps us to achieve our goal of operating sustainable installations but also supports mission objectives. As greenhouse gas restrictions become more stringent we will undoubtedly need methods to reduce each Air Force installationís carbon footprint in an effort to allow mission related activities (i.e. aircraft flight) to continue unimpeded.

Wind generators produce electricity by capturing the kinetic energy of wind. The kinetic energy is first converted into mechanical energy and then into electricity. These devices, in simplest form, consist of three basic components:

  • a rotor to capture the kinetic energy from the wind and convert it into mechanical energy
  • an electric generator to convert mechanical energy into electricity
  • a structure to support the rotor.
Gearboxes are also often implemented in between the rotor and electric generator as a means to increase the efficiency of wind turbines. Additional features may include batteries for electricity storage and an automatic shut down to prevent damage from high speed winds.
Figure 1. A wind turbine generator

Horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT) are the most common type of wind generator currently being utilized. This type of wind turbine gets its designation due to the horizontal axis on which the rotor turns. The rotor and electric generator for these types of wind turbines are placed on a structure high off of the ground for clearance, safety and to capture the most amount of wind as possible. The rotor blades should be pointing into the wind.

In a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) the main rotor shaft is arranged vertically. The main advantage to this design would be that the turbine does not need to be pointed into the wind and therefore can be more effective in locations with highly varying winds.


The VAWT operates at with wind speeds as low as 4 miles per hour but produce energy at only 50% of the efficiency rate of the HAWT.

Figure 2. Simple VAWT design

Figure 2. Simple VAWT design

Figure 1. A wind turbine generator,
towering more than 110 feet
and with blades each 44 feet long
at the Tin City Long-Range Radar Station near Tin City, Alaska.

Wind generators may be implemented anywhere across the world with alterations made for specific site requirements. The scale and expense of the wind generator will depend on the power requirement.

 


Figure 3. Roof top wind farm

 

Figure 3. Roof top wind farm


Cold climates may cause efficiency and maintenance issues. These issues may be avoided with additional features and expense during construction. Some wind turbines may interrupt radar. This may present a serious problem and should be thoroughly researched when considering wind generators as an alternative energy source.

Figure 4. Wind power map of Continental United States

Figure 4. Wind power map of Continental United States


Wind generators are a potential method to achieve the intent of LEED EA Credit 2. Refer to the LEED Guidance section for specific requirements.

See Strategy in Action