It is common practice to install wind-monitoring stations in geographical locations having high winds to estimate power production prior to installing large-scale wind farms. For the current study, a wind-monitoring program was developed as an educational tool for undergraduate engineering students at West Virginia University. The focus of this paper is not on the results of the assessment, but rather on how this program was used as a hands-on approach for educating students about wind energy and availability. The objective of the student/industry collaborative project was to determine the feasibility of constructing a wind farm to power a federal prison facility located in an area with an abundant wind resource in North Central West Virginia, while educating students on wind energy.
This paper presents a description and assessment of this program as an undergraduate senior design project. As part of the program, students played a key role from the developmental stages of the project, to the assessment of the results. During the first semester of the senior design project, students procured a wind monitoring station based on down-select criteria, selected the site for construction, installed the wind monitoring station, commissioned the sensor suite, and performed quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) of and evaluated the initial data sets. Students logged data through the second semester of the program, performed data quality monitoring, processed average wind speed and direction data into frequency distributions and wind roses, analyzed monthly and diurnal averages in wind resources and performed power production calculations. Several different methodologies were employed, including application of fluid control volume energy analysis to derive Betz’ limit, turbine efficiency curves with operational limits and Weibull statistics to employ online power production estimators. The program successfully introduced students to the applicability of their engineering education to the area of renewable energy.