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        Siting Wind Power

        Wind Power Curves and Community Considerations

        Lesson Summary


        This lesson allows students to analyze and understand a variety of curves that describe the power extracted from the wind by a variety of commercially produced wind turbines. Students will then join construction manager, Ed DeJarnette on-site at the Bear Creek Wind Farm, near Wilkes-Barre, PA, to talk shop about the details of siting and constructing a large-scale wind farm. Students will investigate the major factors influencing wind farm siting such as: wind speed, direction and turbulence; state and federal incentives and turbine design. Students will utilize site specific topographic maps and political boundary data to evaluate and make recommendations to their class and community about potential sites for future wind development.

        Content Objectives

        Students will know that

        • Wind is an important form of energy because it is clean, safe and perpetually renewable.
        • Important variables in how much power we can extract from the wind are its speed, direction, turbulence.
        • There are geographic, social and economic constraints affecting the placement and viability of wind farms.

        Process Objectives

        Students will be able to

        • Describe how wind is generated by the uneven solar heating of the earth.
        • Analyze the transformations of energy involved in electricity generation by wind machines.
        • Discuss how the electricity created by wind is delivered to the power grid.
        • Analyze a wind power curve.
        • Compare a variety of wind turbines based on their power output.
        • Assess the feasibility of using wind energy as a resource in the geographic region of the students' learning community.

        Assessment Strategies

        • Evidence of student understanding based on completion of written handout materials and participation in classroom discussions.
        • Evaluation of student recommendations for local siting of a wind farm.

        Grade Level: 9-12

        Suggested Time

        Four to five (4-5) 50 minute class periods.


        Part 1:

        Part 2:

        Part 3:

        Multimedia Resources

        The Lesson

        Part I: What’s Up with Wind in Pennsylvania? (30 minutes, Homework)

        1. Before students begin comparing the power outputs of commercial wind turbines, share the Beaufort scale (example on page 1 of the Siting Wind Power Sudent Handout PDF Document) with students and allow them to quickly go outdoors and make some observations about the current wind conditions using the scale.

        2. Return students to the classroom to share and confirm students’ ideas about how wind is generated.

        3. Assign reading of the American Wind Energy Association’s publication,Wind Power Outlook 2005 and a public commentary on the Bear Creek Wind Farm and discussion questions on page 2 of the student handout for homework (see Materials for web sites).

        Part II: Wind Power Curves (1-50 min Class Period)

        4. Before giving a short lecture on wind power curves and capacity factor, review the recent homework assignment and discussion questions.

        5. Allow students to assist you in finding the Bear Creek site just south of Wilkes-Barre, PA. (Google Earth) in order to provide the geographic context for video of an interview and tour of Bear Creek with the site’s former Construction Manager, Mr. Ed DeJarnette.

        6. Share the first two video sequences of the Bear Creek Wind Farm tour with the class.

        Sequence 1 (Foundation QuickTime Video,Building the Road QuickTime Video,Bringing in Parts QuickTime Video,Specs and Process QuickTime Video,Blade onto Tower QuickTime Video,Environmental Concerns QuickTime Video)

        Sequence 2 (Topography QuickTime Video,Turbine Production QuickTime Video,Turbine Type and Specs QuickTime Video,Power Grid QuickTime Video)

        [A variation could be to allow students to view the QuickTime movies in small groups, but this would require Internet connectivity and student computers].

        7. Focus students on the construction of the wind turbine and the factors that could affect its ability to produce power and give a short lecture on the basics of the wind power curve (see Teacher's Notes PDF Document for Part 2) and how it is useful in making siting decisions for wind turbines.

        8. Allow students to work collaboratively to analyze some wind power curves and answer questions in Part 2 of the Student Handout.

        Part III: Siting a Wind Farm: Feasibility for All? (3-50-minute Class Periods)

        9. Share Bear Creek video sequence 3 (Private vs. Public Land QuickTime Video, Owners QuickTime Video ) with students.

        10. Gather students’ thoughts on the video and introduce the task of evaluating local wind resources to make a recommendation about the feasibility of siting a wind farm near their school.

        11. Allow students to get into assessment teams of 3 to 4 students. They will use the Siting Wind Power Sudent Handout PDF Document as a “getting-started” guide for their wind resource assessments.

        12. Depending upon student needs, you will be involved on an “as needed” basis to facilitate data collection strategies for student teams’ wind resource assessment.

        13. Allow students a full class period each to evaluate potential sites, collect data, and present their recommendations to their classmates.

        Part IV: Extension (1 or 2-50-minute Class Periods)

        14. Generate your own wind power curves using small wind turbines that your students construct. Resources and lessons on building table-top wind turbines can be found at:

        15. Present your siting recommendations to a local governing body like your town council as a sustainable energy alternative.


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