Energy options explored
(LE MARS)-- Does it make sense to put up a wind turbine to offset your energy bill? Should you rent your land to others so they can put up turbines? What's going on with solar energy? Is it more cost effective than wind? These were some of the questions answered at Wind and Solar Energy Conference, hosted by Plymouth County Extension Wednesday.
Bill Haman, Industrial Program Manager for the Iowa Energy Center, was one of the featured speakers. He told the crowd of over 160 people that wind is a great natural resource for Iowa because the expanses of farmland in the state allow for shorter, and therefore less expensive, turbines.
Average annual wind speeds across Iowa have a large range from less than 12 mph in the northeast, to up to 18 mph in the northwest. In the winter and spring that range increases to 18 mph averages in the northeast, to 27-30 mph averages in the northwest. In the summer it decreases drastically.
Haman says the inconsistency of the wind from season to season poses a problem.
For that reason, government incentives and subsidies are in place to help grow the wind industry.
With the wind being so strong in this corner of the state, why aren't there more wind farms? Haman says that most wind farms are located in north central Iowa because they can easily attach to a grid to transmit the energy to areas with higher populations. However, the largest wind farm in the state is located in Storm Lake, with 257 turbines.
Continue to listen to KLEM in the coming days for more details from yesterdays Wind and Solar Energy Conference.
(Le Mars) -- When it comes to renewable energy resources, solar is a hot item. Bill Haman, Industrial Program Manager for the Iowa Energy Center, says that solar, not wind, may be the best option right now for those looking to offset their energy consumption.
The raw material that goes into solar cells is poly silicon , the same material that is used to make computer chips. Just a few years ago, China ramped up production of poly silicon , creating a bigger supply which made the price go down. Haman says the recession, as it relates to Europe, is the other reason solar energy is becoming more affordable.
The sun delivers enough energy to this earth in one hour to power the entire world population for a year. Haman marvels at the possibilities that leads to.
The average home uses 900 kilowatt hours a month, which would require a 7.7 kilowatt system over a year, so at a thousand dollars per watt, we're talking over 7 million dollars for one home.
Not so overly priced are the solar panels on the market now that have efficiency ratings from 5-19%. Current pricing per watt for an installed panel is five to six dollars. This means that the average cost for an average home would be about $40,000 for a solar system. Right now, small wind turbines are going up for $50-60,000.
For detailed information about renewable energy including grants and funding and calculators to help you figure out what kind of systems might work for you visit www.energy.iastate.edu.
(LE MARS) -- Students from Spirit Lake and Western Iowa Tech college, farmers, representatives from electric companies and the USDA, along with others, gathered Wednesday to learn about alternate energy resources at the Wind and Solar Energy Conference at the Le Mars Convention Center.
Part of the discussion was geared toward home and farm owners who are looking to use wind energy to power their household and farming operations. Bill Haman, Industrial Program Manager for the Iowa Energy Center, says the best places to put a turbine are on hilltops, ridge lines and windward slopes. Keeping them away from trees and buildings, or at least higher than them, is important to keep the turbines out of turbulence .
Before you put up a turbine, there is a lot of background research to be done to decide what size you need. Haman says there's something you should do even before you get to that point.
That's what Paul Rekow did. He told conference attendees how he first made his home as energy efficient as possible with a ground source heat pump system, energy efficient windows and appliances, compact fluorescent bulbs...the list goes on and on. He then monitored how many watts the household used per month, and installed solar panels and a small turbine onto his property.
Rekow is currently producing more energy than he's using. He is also a small wind advocate that helps others get started and protect them from unreputable installers.
Rekow recommends The Iowa Energy Center's website to anyone thinking about renewable energy options. That website is www.energy.iastate.edu.
(Reports and photos by Angela Drake, KLEM)
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