-->Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) Community Wind Maps
The MTC's Community Wind Maps are part of a larger initiative to model and map wind resources throughout New England. MTC, Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, and Northeast Utilities commissioned TrueWind Solutions LLC and AWS Scientific, Inc to prepare the "Wind Energy Resource Maps for New England."
MTC seeks to maximize environmental and economic benefits for Massachusetts' citizens by promoting clean energy technologies. In pursuit of this mission, MTC sponsored the "Community Wind Collaborative," which assists Massachusetts's towns and cities abilities to tap into renewable wind power by offering a range of services, including: technical assistance, data analysis, and resource procurement. The Community Wind Maps serve as a tool to help communities understand wind resource potential in their area by mapping wind potential (i.e. wind speed) and open space throughout the state.
DEVELOPMENT & DATA SELECTION
The maps were developed and made available to the public over 2002 and 2003. Wind speed and power predictions were generated by a numerical model simulating weather conditions over a 15-year period, taking into account geophysical factors such as land use, elevation, and vegetation. The study covered the New England region. MTC, of course, focuses on Massachusetts's towns and cities only.
In developing the maps, wind map measurements were compared with data that came from 33 towers in the region. Source data came from airports, offshore platforms (or buoys), and wind measurement programs from the 1980s and 1990s, among other sources. No other details regarding analysis and software use were described.
RESULTS OF RESEARCH
According to MTC, analysis indicates that wind is an economically and technically viable resource for power generation in both coastal and upland areas across the New England region. Resource availability is concentrated in the hills of western Massachusetts and Connecticut, the mountains of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, and the New England coastal and offshore areas.
Commercial wind power projects using large turbines generally require a mean wind speed of at least 7 m/s or mean power of at least 400 W/m2 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) class 4 or higher). Wind turbines that are designed to operate at lower wind speeds, may be viable at mean speeds as low as 5-6 m/s (NREL class 2 to 3). Small wind turbines would be on shorter towers and would use the 30 m height wind energy resource map.
QUESTIONS ADDRESSED AND IMPORTANCE OF SPATIAL COMPONENT
The maps provide valuable data for community members or businesses considering wind as a potential renewable energy source. As the website mentions, it is especially helpful for "first glance" assessments. Renewable energy projects are popular with the general public, but often, people do not know where to begin. Where should a wind project be sited? Is wind energy even a feasible project in the community? How much energy should be expected? The mapping tool gives citizens a place to start in answering these questions. In particular, schools are also prominently located on the maps, a valuable piece of information for developers considering "model" wind displays to educate students and attract community members.
The project could be completed without a spatial component; however, customer presentation would suffer. For example, data could be presented in neatly organized tables, listing communities and the average wind speeds for each community. Such a presentation may be difficult for readers to quickly assimilate. The maps present the information in a very fast and "easy to read" format.
Lastly, it would be nice to have a map of financial incentives and best technology to complement the wind speed maps. Are government incentives the same across the state? Across the region? What technologies are available in each region? I believe this would help community planners address the questions that immediately follow (and affect) siting proposals. MTC does address these questions elsewhere in their website. Depending on the variability of community incentives, these may not be spatial questions. (i.e. Incentives may be uniform across the state of Massachusetts - thus a map would be of little use.)
See wind map index:
See Project Report:
Boston Wind Resources map (open space and wind resources): http://www.masstech.org/IS/Community_Wind/maps/Wind%20Resources_BOSTON.pdf