Standing just 49 feet high, the wind turbine, manufactured by the Scottish company Proven Energy, will be used as a training tool to educate college students as they learn to be renewable energy technicians.
It is about one-sixth the height of the 300 foot tall tubular steel towers seen on most Wyoming wind farms. The smaller turbine can be lowered on its tilt-down tower, allowing for hands-on maintenance and training.
Casper College already offers renewable energy classes, and the college will begin offering a renewable energy degree in fall 2009.
"This project, designed to support students as they learn about wind energy technology, is ambitious and exciting," said Clarke Turner, Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center director.
"It has resulted in a remarkable event - a wind turbine, the very image of new energy generation, is operating at Teapot Dome, one of the most historic oilfields in the world," said Turner. "This project represents new thinking in a time of great challenge in the energy arena."
The Proven Energy wind turbine is installed at the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center. (Photo courtesy Casper College)
The Proven Energy turbine is much smaller than the ones most people associate with wind energy. The blades are just nine feet long. A wind turbine of this size can offset the electric load for the home of a typical family of four.
The Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center will utilize the energy produced by the wind turbine to help provide for its own electric consumption.
The United States leads the world in the production of small wind turbines, which are defined as having rated capacities of 100 kilowatts and less.
The American Wind Energy Association, an industry group, says the market for small wind turbines in the United States is expected to continue strong growth through the next decade.
Funding for the Casper small wind project comes from a grant issued by the U.S. Department of Energy in January 2008.
The small turbine was installed in late November on the 10,000-acre U.S. Department of Energy's Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center located within Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 3, also known as the Teapot Dome Oil Field.
Teapot Rock in Wyoming (From an old postcard, photo credit unknown)
Teapot Dome is a geologic structural uplift named for a formation of eroded sandstone called Teapot Rock that rises above the sagebrush and overlooks the oil field. The Teapot Dome oil field figured in a 1921 bribery scandal during the administration of President Warren Harding. Click here for an historical account of the scandal.
Next year, Casper College and the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center expect to commission a second small wind turbine designed to demonstrate the potential for wind energy in remote industrial and agricultural applications.
These smaller wind turbines can also provide electricity for remote applications such as telecommunications sites operating off the grid.
These wind turbines operate on oil rigs in the North Sea where 16 Proven 2.5kW turbines provide power for eight off-shore platforms. More than 1,900 small wind turbines manufactured by Proven Energy are in operation worldwide.
In the United States, a new tax credit covering small wind turbines was enacted in October through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, commonly called the $700 billion financial system bailout.
The federal investment tax credit is available to help consumers purchase small wind turbines for home, farm, or business use. Owners of small wind systems with 100 kilowatts of capacity and less can receive a credit for 30 percent of the total installed cost of the system, not to exceed $4,000.
The tax credit is available for equipment installed from October 3, 2008 through December 31, 2016.
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