We want Camden Hills Regional High School to become a greener, more self-sustaining community.
We want to increase electricity produced by renewable sources.
We want this project to model to our peers and local communities that students can make a difference.
We want renewable energy and energy issues to become an integral part of course curriculum.
We want this turbine to be a model and resource for the greater community, as they explore the potential of wind energy.
Ten years ago the towns of Hope, Appleton, Lincolnville, Camden and Rockport built a new high school which incorporated state of the art energy saving and conservation attributes as part of its design. After the construction was completed, the school ended up using more energy than anticipated. Through conservation efforts, expansion of the building control system and some hardware upgrades, the electrical consumption at the school was cut by 40%. A significant reduction in demand was also accomplished.
In 2004, a group of students decided to explore the possibility of installing a windmill to generate electricity. Generating our own electricity would result in an economic savings to the school district, as well as, an environmental savings due to the amount of electricity being produced from a renewable energy resource. Since the students first initiated this project 5 years ago, the students have participated in many activities that have exposed them to many aspects of science, public policy, public speaking, public relations and grant writing.
The student group, calling themselves the “Windplanners” solicited involvement of several community members who are knowledgeable in wind power and through those contacts the Renewable Energy Lab, University of Massachusetts at Amherst became involved. U-Mass installed a 140 ft meteorological tower in order to obtain wind speed, direction and temperature information about the site. This is the normal process involved when siting a wind turbine. We have over 14 months which the school received free of charge due to participation in a DOE program. The final report can be downloaded as a pdf from here (link to Camden_Final_Report.pdf)
The students made a presentation to the Rockport Zoning Board of Appeals to obtain a variance for the installation of the meteorological tower. The town’s Ordinance Review Committee sought the students input when writing the ordinance for siting wind turbines within Rockport, Maine.
During this time the students also researched what wind machines would be viable in the area and what regulations or constraints would be involved in installing a windmill of this size. After much research and discussion the Northwind 100 was chosen. It has a 2 year full warranty and comes with an educational display. This display will be part of the installation and housed in a prominent location within the school building. Parameters displayed will include current wind speed and power output information and programmed to show the amount of C02 that has been saved through the production of our own electricity.
In the Fall of 2009, we had a community member challenge our wind analysis. Without a windpseed of at least 4.2 m/s it would be hard to justify putting a wind turbine of this size at this location. We contacted UMass to complete a review of the original data set. That report can be downloaded as a pdf from here (link to wind data review). Results came back with wind speeds estimated at 4.5 – 5.0 m/s. A possible average of 5/5 m/s is possible but not probable. Included in this report was a terrain analysis. From this analysis the turbine location was determined.
Across the country various schools are taking on different projects implementing renewable energy, beginning out in the Midwest where several schools actually have installed utility class wind turbines and are receiving revenues from the sale of electricity to their host utility companies. Within the state of Maine itself several schools have applied for state grants to a program initiated by a windmill manufacturer in Arizona to supply schools with very small windmills. These machines are rated at 1 to 2 kW and depending upon the siting, will provide very little if any energy production towards the school’s electrical consumption. The proposed windmill at Camden Hills High School is approximately 100 times larger and will be producing an estimated 10% to 12% of the electricity used by the school during the school year. This is not a toy these students are trying to install. This machine has the ability to produce tens of thousands of dollars of electricity annually for the school district. The awareness within the student community across the country about our environment and how to protect it while still maintaining a high quality of life is increasing. The Camden Hills Regional High School students have talked with the faculty members and students at other schools where similar projects have been initiated to determine how they approached their projects. The project at Camden Hills Regional High School has the unanimous support of the School Committee, the Principal and the Superintendent.
The theme of sustainability is a key concept that every freshman at Camden Hills Regional High School is familiar with. As part of the freshman Global Science program each student grapples with this issue. How to live as humans in a way that will meet our needs while not taking away from the ability of future generations to meet their needs calls into question many of the basic assumptions underlying how we have lived in the recent past that have resulted in damage to the ecosystems on which we depend. Part of this exploration for students in this course deals with energy production and issues related to energy. The school has made a serious attempt to reduce its consumption of energy through conservation. Much progress has been made and students learn in class about the measures that have been taken. They also learn about alternative energy and consider the benefits and limitations of each of these options. Wind power is one option that appears to offer great potential.
As part of the Global Science Curriculum all students are now required to design and build a wind machine and to test the efficiency of their creations as part of a class competition. Other classes have expressed an interest in using our wind power project as part of their curriculum. The math department would like to use the data collected by the meteorological tower in the statistics course to study regression analysis. In other classes, "Humans in the Environment” and AP Environmental Science questions associated with energy and sustainability are integral to the curriculum.
As a school it is essential that we model what we teach and a wind machine would provide experiential learning possibilities to reinforce and extend what is already taught in many of our classrooms.