A study of wind turbines at a couple KDOT field offices has revealed that they might not be too practical in reducing energy costs at this time, but they will have an unexpected benefit, nonetheless. The two turbines that were used for about four years at the Osborne and Grainfield subarea offices have been donated to the “Wind for Schools” program. Through the program, which is operated by Kansas State University’s Ruth Douglas Miller, an associate professor of electrical engineering, the turbines will be restored to working order and installed at Bennington High School north of Salina and Santa Fe Trail High School in Osage County. The value to the schools won’t be as an energy saver, but rather as an educational tool, said Professor Miller. She said turbines can be used in math, science, physics and meteorology curriculums. Even social science, she added.
|This turbine from the Osborne office has been donated.|
When KDOT installed the turbines, which cost $12,000 each, the idea was to determine, with the help of Professor Miller’s K-State students, how they performed compared to expectations and whether they could be practical at other KDOT shops. The K-State students prepared a massive report, loaded with extensive data collection. Considering the size of the turbines (these are designed for residential use and aren’t the more familiar giants seen in southwest Kansas and along I-70 in central Kansas), the amount of wind and the rate of payback, the students found that the turbines wouldn’t be practical with less than a 20-year payback.
Based on that information, and combined with the fact that the turbines had stopped working, KDOT offered to donate them to the “Wind for Schools” program and Professor Miller enthusiastically accepted. Her K-State students will help in making the turbines functional again as part of their curriculum.
To learn more about the “Wind for Schools” program, visit Kansas Wind Applications Center.