Using wind turbines to energize greenhouses for zero emission cultivation

Wind turbine technology is a great solution for commercial greenhouse growers searching for ways to save money on energy costs and lower their impact on the environment. While it may seem financially inaccessible for smaller farms, wind energy is more affordable nowadays with easily attainable federal incentives. In this blog, we will discuss the different options available when it comes to wind turbine technology and why commercial greenhouse growers of any size should consider clean wind energy to power their greenhouse.

But first, let’s review how wind turbines work and some product specifications.

How do wind turbines generate electricity?
The movement of the wind over the turbine blades generates lift similar to that of an airplane wing, initiating the rotation of the rotor. Through the utilization of a direct drive mechanism, the turning blades enable the production of power from the generator. The generated electricity is then directed to a transformer, where it undergoes conversion to the appropriate voltage. Finally, the transformed electricity is transmitted onward towards whatever facility, building, or operation needs powering.

How big is a wind turbine?
When we think of wind turbines, we think of gargantuan installations that tower over hilltops and can be seen from miles away. These types of turbines help power entire municipalities and are often seen in clusters dotting windy landscapes. Eocycle, the wind turbine company that Ceres has partnered with, offers turbine models that are smaller and more accessible to commercial farmers or individual institutions. For instance, their smallest model (the EOX S-16) tops out at 80 feet (24 meters), which is the height of a fully-grown pine tree. A wind turbine of this size only takes up about 10 feet of ground space and doesn’t disturb human or animal life around it.

How much energy does a wind turbine produce?
The energy output of a wind turbine depends on the size of the turbine and wind speed through the rotor. If you take an average wind speed of 16mph (7.5 m/s, which is a moderate breeze), Eocycle’s EOX S-16 model can generate 130,000 kWh per year (130 MWH). That’s enough electricity to run two 3,000 sq. ft. Ceres greenhouses.

Combine wind turbine renewable energy with energy-efficient greenhouse design, and you can save exponentially on energy costs. A modern wind turbine generates electricity 75-80% of the time, but any gap in electrical needs can be complemented with solar energy from PV panels to achieve 100% renewable power. Ceres’ commercial greenhouses have the capability to run entirely on electricity, which means that it’s possible for our growers to rely solely on wind and solar to operate their greenhouses.

How much does a wind turbine cost?
While not inexpensive, wind turbines qualify for renewable energy incentives from both federal and state governments (not all states have incentives). Through the federal investment tax credit (ITC), you can benefit from a tax credit equivalent to 30% of the total project cost. Moreover, wind turbines are eligible for a USDA REAP Grant, which can cover up to 50% of the project cost. By leveraging these two incentives, you can cover 80% of your project expenses.

Where does a wind turbine make the most sense?
Not all locations are eligible for producing wind energy. Before investing in a wind energy system, it is essential to evaluate or assess the wind resource specific to your location or site.

In order for an Eocycle wind turbine to work for your business, your site must have an average wind speed of 10mph (4.4m/s) or higher for a wind turbine height of 80 feet. To see if your site meets this requirement, you can visit the Global Wind Atlas site to determine your “mean wind speed” (left box) by entering the coordinates of the proposed wind turbine location into the site’s search bar (you can easily find your exact coordinates via Google maps). Once you enter your coordinates into the site, you will want your wind speed meter to be above 4m/s when you select the 10-meter height measurement and above 5m/s when you select the 50-meter height measurement.

Wind is abundant, and wind turbines are among the most economically viable on-site renewable energy systems. Wind serves as a plentiful, clean, and renewable source of energy, and depending on the wind resources available, a wind energy system can result in a significant reduction or even complete elimination of your electricity bill. The payback period and return on investment for wind systems typically surpass those of various other renewable options, such as solar. Also, wind power is entirely free from carbon emissions.

For more information:
Ceres Greenhouse Solutions

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