Berea College, nationally acclaimed for its sustainable practices, has recently added a new feature to its campus in an effort to seek alternative renewable energy sources. Berea is testing out the feasibility of harnessing wind resources on its campus by placing a turbine on the Bruce-Trades Building. Although it has been in place for a relatively short time it is already recording valuable information about the possibility of wind resources for the college.
The college is not located in a particularly windy climate - the Department of Energy states that the average wind speed is 10 mph. Therefore, the uses would be limited but it may be possible to use wind energy to power lighting within buildings to reduce the college’s dependence on nonrenewable electricity sources. Local monitoring may also show an opportunity for wind generation that is not captured by large-scale studies.
The turbine was placed on Bruce-Trades alongside an existing solar array that has been gathering energy and information for Berea College as well. The solar array has created nearly 60,000 kWh of energy since its installation in early 2009.
Currently, students and visitors can visit the Appalachian Center on the first floor of Bruce-Trades and see an exhibit about energy and Appalachia and observe a live monitoring system that displays real time information about the solar energy gathering system. A website is also in place to allow remote viewing of information. There are plans to install a system to display results of the wind turbine too, possibly using the same system as the solar display. Access to this data will be provided for both classroom and future research purposes.