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Book Reviews

January 31, 2003
Paul Gipe

AEI's Wind Course CD-ROM

January 31, 2003

Another in a series of occasional reviews by Paul Gipe of books and CDs on wind energy.

Disclosure: Paul Gipe taught at AEI under Vaughn Nelson in 1979 and AEI's Ken Starcher has provided many hours of technical assistance to Gipe in preparation of his next book.

"Wind Energy and Wind Turbines" is a CD-ROM produced by the Alternative Energy Institute at West Texas A&M University in 2001. The CD-ROM is part of an introductory college-level course offered by the university.

The CD-ROM was written by the institute's director, Vaughn Nelson, a distinguished professor of physics at what was formerly called West Texas State University, and by the institute's assistant director, Ken Starcher, a veritable font of information on the technology.

AEI's CD-ROM grew out of a course on wind energy that Nelson has taught for more than two decades. And the CD-ROM accurately conveys Nelson's trademark spare, straight-talking style.

The materials are primarily US-centric, though there are numerous examples of Nelson's work in China, South America and Mexico. Interestingly, the focus on the United States allows inclusion of historical information that many in today's wind industry may not know. For example, few today know or remember that the U.S. Department of Energy spent $350 million from 1973 through 1990 on the development of large wind turbines--fully half of all research funds for wind energy in the United States--and that the program was "largely a failure".

The CD-ROM also reflects Nelson's and AEI's long association with small wind turbines and wind pumping. Unlike other reference works that often ignore or gloss over these machines, AEI's CD-ROM includes them, right alongside the more prominent commercial-scale turbines. To Nelson, commercial wind turbines, farm windmills, and small wind turbines are all wind machines and all worthy of note.

Nelson has a strong background in wind resource assessment, wind-assisted irrigation, and small turbine testing. It is this breadth of experience that makes AEI's CD-ROM so useful.

I found the CD-ROM extremely handy while updating one of my books. The CD-ROM included some useful details on wind resource characteristics that were not readily apparent in several reference books on the subject. Possibly Nelson's many years mapping the Texas wind resource or years as a physics lecturer enabled him to present the material in a slightly different manner than others, so that the subtle detail I sought stood out. I felt like crying "Eureka! That explains it," when I found what I was looking for after a long search through my library.

Potential users should not let the homespun style of the CD-ROM deter them. AEI's CD-ROM is not whiz-bang or highly polished like slick products from wind turbine manufacturers or their trade associations, but what it lacks in glitz, it makes up for in substance.

There are valuable nuggets of hard-to-find information on the CD-ROM. In the chapter on economics, there are two examples of wind farm lease payments. Wind developers and land speculators guard this data as though it were gold at Fort Knox--proprietary, private, confidential and top secret. But there it is in AEI's CD-ROM, the lease terms for two wind projects and the state of Texas: Indian Mesa I, and Woodward Mountain. For the Indian Mesa project of 51 Vestas V47s, the royalty paid to the state was 4% during the first ten years, 6% during the second decade, and 8% in the third decade. Every landowner with wind prospectors knocking at the door should have a copy of this CD-ROM in their hand.

AEI's CD-ROM also contains more than 100 photographs and figures. Many of the photographs are of rare, experimental, or no longer manufactured wind turbines that in themselves provide a modern history of the technology's development.

There is a fascinating chapter entitled "Innovative Turbines," in which the AEI crew takes a visual tour to some of the more outlandish wind turbine designs they've come across. Some of these you just have to see to believe.

Taking advantage of the CD-ROM's multimedia capabilities, there are three video clips: 1.3 MW Bonus turbines near McCamey, in southwest Texas; raising of a 1 MW Mitsubishi turbine on the Llano Estacado project near White Deer, in the Texas panhandle; and an overview of the same project.

The CD-ROM alone can be purchased for $40. Or the CD-ROM can be purchased as part of an online class without academic credit for $400. The class can also be taken for continuing education credits equivalent to a three-hour college-level class at a cost of $500. To sign up for the online course, send a message to or telephone +1 806 651 2295. Your username and password will be issued after the course fee has been paid.

AEI's Wind Course CD-ROM: "Wind Energy and Wind Turbines," by Vaughn Nelson and the AEI staff, is available for $40 from the Alternative Energy Institute, West Texas A&M University, Box 60248, Canyon, Texas 79016; phone: 806 651 2295; fax: 806 651 2733;;

AEI's Wind Course CD-ROM Contents

1. Introduction

1.1 Dutch Windmill

1.2 Farm Windmill

1.3 Wind Chargers

1.4 Generation of Electricity for Utilities


2. Energy

2.1 Philosophy

2.1.1 Advantages/Disadvantages of Renewable Energy

2.1.2 Economics

2.2 Definition of Energy and Power

2.3 Fundamentals Concerning Energy

2.4 Energy Dilemma in Light of Laws of Thermodynamics

2.4.1 Conservation

2.4.2 Efficiency

2.5 Exponential Growth

2.6 Use of Fossil Fuels

2.7 Nuclear

2.8 Mathematics of Exponential Growth

2.9 Lifetime of a Finite Resource

2.10 Summary



3. Wind Characteristics

3.1 Global Circulation

3.2 Extractable Limits of Wind Power

3.3 Power in the Wind

3.4 Change in Windspeed with Height

3.5 Wind Direction

3.6 Wind Power Potential

3.7 Wind Maps

3.8 Variations in Power

3.9 Windspeed Histograms

3.10 Duration Curve

3.11 Windspeed Distributions

3.12 General Comments



4. Instrumentation and Measurement 4.1 Instrumentation

4.2 Characteristics of Instruments

4.3 Measurements

4.4 Vegetation Indicators

4.5 Data Loggers



5. Wind Turbines

5.1 Drag Device

5.2 Lift Device

5.3 Orientation of Rotor Axis

5.4 Description of System

5.5 Aerodynamics

5.6 Control

5.7 Energy Production

5.8 Calculated Annual Energy

5.9 Innovative Wind Systems

5.10 Applications

5.11 Storage


6. Design of Wind Turbines

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Aerodynamics

6.3 Mathematical Terms

6.4 Analysis of Extractable Power

6.5 Drag Device

6.6 Lift Device

6.6.1 Maximum Theoretical Power

6.6.2 Rotation

6.7 Aerodynamic Performance Prediction

6.8 Measured Power and Power Coefficient



7. Electrical Aspects

7.1 Fundamentals

7.1.1 Faraday's Law of Electromagnetic Induction

7.1.2 Phase Angle and Power Factor

7.2 Generators

7.3 Induction Generators

7.4 Examples



8. System Performance

8.1 Performance

8.2 Measures of Performance

8.3 Performance Reports

8.3.1 California

8.3.2 Windstats 8.4 Performance of Enertech 44

8.5 Performance of Bergey Excel

8.6 Water Pumping

8.6.1 Farm Windmill

8.6.2 Electric to Electric System

8.7 Hybrid

8.7.1 Village Systems

8.7.2 Wind Diesel




9. Siting

9.1 Introduction

9.2 Long Term Reference Stations

9.3 Site Evaluation For Wind Farms

9.4 Wake and Array Losses

9.5 Digital Maps

9.6 Geographic Information Systems

9.7 Wind Resource Screening

9.8 Wind Power Production

9.8.1 Wind Power for Texas Panhandle

9.8.2 Wind Power for Texas

9.9 Numerical Models

9.10 Micrositing

9.11 Summary


Geographic Information Systems


10. Wind Industry

10.1 Introduction

10.2 New Wind Industry

10.2.1 Wind Industry 1970 - 1980

10.2.2 Wind Industry 1980 - 1990

10.2.3 Wind Industry 1990 - 2000

10.2.4 Wind Industry 2000 - 2010


10.3 Large Wind Turbines

10.4 Small Wind Turbines



11. Institutional Issues

11.1 Introduction

11.2 Avoided Costs

11.3 Utility Concerns

11.3.1 Safety

11.3.2 Quality Of Power

11.3.3 Connection To The Utility

11.4 Regulations On Installation And Operation

11.5 Environmental 11.6 Politics

11.7 Incentives

11.7.1 United States

11.7.2 Other Countries



12. Economics

12.1 Introduction

12.2 Factors Affecting Economics

12.3 General Comments

12.4 Economic Analysis

12.4.1 Simple Payback

12.4.2 Cost of Energy

12.4.3 Value of Energy

12.5 Life Cycle Costs

12.6 Present Worth and Levelized Costs

12.7 Externalities

12.8 Wind Project Development

12.8.1 Land Owner Considerations

12.8.2 COE Estimation for a Wind Farm

12.9 Summary




Innovative Turbines

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