Energy News: Wind Generator Design, Solar Components, and Heat Pump Benefits

Schools offering classes in wind generator design, mass produced solar components, and the energy efficiency benefits of heat pumps are among the energy news stories reported in this installment of an ongoing series.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
September/October 1994
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In the mid 1970s many schools and universities across the U.S. began offering courses in wind generator design.
ILLUSTRATION: KIRILL KEDRINSKI/FOTOLIA


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The following energy news items were drawn from multiple sources. 


Wind Generator Design Classes

The University of Massachusetts offered a course in wind system design this summer and the response was tremendous. An Energy Alternatives generator is currently being used by the U of M to test advanced windplant propeller designs. Many other universities and schools of engineering in the U.S. and Canada also have instituted such courses and research work.

Mass Produced Solar Components

Mass produced solar collector components are now available from both Olin Brass and Revere Copper & Brass· See your nearest supplier of Olin and Revere industrial products for specifications and prices.

Heat Pump Benefits

It's easy to cut electric heating bills by one-third: Just install a heat pump. Heat pumps (which can either collect warmth at Point A and move it to Point B or vice versa) are—thanks to the energy crunch—suddenly coming into their own. Engineers say that, "Compared to other forms of electrical heaters, these units are 200 to 250% efficient." If you're interested in learning more about them, see your local heating contractor. General Electric, Westinghouse, Lennox, and other major furnace/air conditioning manufacturers already have begun a major marketing push of the pumps.

Oil Platform Alternative Energy

Wind power and solar energy have already been harnessed by the oil industry. Shell, Atlantic Richfield, Tenneco, and other large petroleum companies are currently using small solar-powered equipment (foghorns, warning lights, etc,) on drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. The firms are also conducting serious tests on windplants with 3-to-7-foot-diameter propellers (and outputs ranging from 16 to 150 watts). Business Week reports that oilmen now figure on using Gulf breezes to supply electricity to half of the 2,800 offshore drilling platforms located in that body of water.

Alternative Energy Conference

Don't expect much from the World Energy Conference, scheduled for September 23-27 in Detroit, Michigan. Lavish advance promotion brands the gathering as a big-government-big-business-as-usual waste of time. When the newly formed American Wind Energy Association applied for admittance to the conference, it was turned down. ("You're too late!' AWEA representatives were told.) Result: Undaunted AWEAers decided to hold their own alternative energy conference in Detroit on September 20-2l ... with maybe just a little of their meeting being extended to overlap the WEC clambake. AWEAer Al O'Shay—of Detroit's Environmental Energies, Inc,—expects to have his solar, wind, and methane powered store open by then and has offered its use as unofficial headquarters for the AWEA meet. 

Energy Alternatives Inc.

Energy Alternatives Inc., is the new firm set up in Leverett, Massachusetts by Klaus Kroner "for the purpose of promoting wind, sun, tidal and thermal gradient power." The company plans to spread the good word about alternative energy sources of all kinds and is already a distributor for the Winco (of Iowa) and Dunlite (of Australia) wind-driven generators.

Audubon Society Wind Power

And here's some of those good words from Klaus Kroner now: The Massachusetts Audubon Society is thinking about operating one of their office buildings in Lincoln on wind-generated electricity. The organization has a large tower (from an old military installation) next to its headquarters and society officials are looking for a windplant with which to top the structure.


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