The staff and faculty of the Institute for Energy are experts in the
energy field. We understand the true issues that face energy
development in the Commonwealth and use our knowledge to pursue research
that has the ability to create essential policy frame work to ensure
the energy industry continues to thrive. Our research projects include:
A comprehensive review of energy development on Pennsylvania's Public LandsView summary and interactive maps Read the full report [.pdf]
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any other research inquiries or interest in collaborating with us.
The Institute has sponsored research by faculty and students from
business, sociology, history, communications, engineering, biology,
computer science, math, and more. A sampling of projects are listed
advisor John Lamertina and students Alex Yeisley and Tim Gaborek took
eight weeks in the summer of 2007 to write a computer program, called
BREEZE, that automates wind data analysis taking raw data, analyzing it
for errors, and producing easily understandable graphs and tables—at the
stroke of a button. They worked closely with professional meteorologist
Ed McCarthy of Wectec, Inc., a California-based firm specializing in
meteorological analysis services. The graphs they produce, such as the
one shown of Mean Average Wind Speed at 3 Different Heights, are
identical to those produced by Mr. McCarthy.
The Anemometer Loan Program gathers data for typically a 12-month period of time. Gathering data for only a year produces a question: How does this year compare to other years for
wind at or near the proposed site? Was it a good year, a bad year or an
average year? Without a historical context, the program has no way of validating the accuracy of the data. The purpose of this project by Dr. John Harris and Kurt Hoffman was to develop a baseline historical wind comparison platform such that present and future ALP sites can have greater
confidence in their wind assessment. The project analyzed archived wind data for a comparative regional airport, Johnstown Regional Airport, as a validation and correlation measure for collected wind data.
Results: The Case of 1998
The University now has a database for Johnstown Regional Airport that monitors wind speed, direction and temperature which is being used to validate the wind data collected and analyzed by the ALP. One client whose site demonstrated a poor wind resource has already asked the
question answered by this research: “How do you know if it wasn’t just a bad year?” We now have a very good answer to that question.
An example of the importance of their work is illustrated in the graph above that shows that 1998 was an anomalous year. In the 10 year test of 1998, the mean wind speed from 1998 was 16% lower than the Mean Wind Speed over the 10 year period. Because wind speed translates into power for a wind turbine, this 16% is
a significant difference. Wind speed is cubed in order to determine power output. Hypothetically speaking, a site that normally has a mean wind speed of 20 MPH would have data collected in an anomaly year of 16.8 MPH, a 16% difference. This is a 41% drop in power output over that
anomaly year. So a 16% reduction in wind speed is approximately a 40% reduction in power!
In short, wind speed matters and knowing whether the wind speed is congruent with historic trends validates the resource and adds value to the service the CWP provides. Further work with historic wind data from airports in Northeast and Northwest
Pennsylvania is needed to validate data collected in those wind areas.
The purpose of this research was to
identify and monitor bird activity at two potential community wind farm
sites in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. After two months of studying the
birds at these sites, 42 bird species were observed at one site and 29
species at the other. All of the species at both sites were determined
to be breeding or potentially breeding.
None of these species were listed as federally or state threatened or
endangered. However, there were five species of conservational interest
and two species of regional rarity found at one site, and two
conservation interest and one regional rarity species found at the
other. Additionally, five species on Audubon’s 2007 “List of the Top 20
Birds With the Greatest Population Decline Since 1967” were found at
both sites.View a sample report
ObjectivesTwo local farms in Cambria County, Pennsylvania
have been identified by the Saint Francis University Renewable Energy
Center’s ALP as potentially viable for wind energy development. The
overall environmental risks at these sites have not yet been
investigated, so the purpose of our study was to complete an assessment
of avian use—what bird species inhabit the sites, when they are present,
and how they are using the site (e.g., nesting, migrating, foraging).
This will help the landowners and developers to understand any drawbacks
to constructing a community-scale wind project on their farm. The data
collected will also provide a better understanding of the potential
effects a wind farm could have on certain bird species at a site—for
example, displacement of bird species from their breeding grounds.
MethodologyThe methodology was developed in consultation with
Richard Curry of Curry & Kerlinger, a firm specializing in avian
assessments for the wind energy industry. Also utilized was the
Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Voluntary Agreement for Wind Energy
Developer.The study took place on two local farms in Cambria
County, PA during the months of May and June 2007. Our sampling times
ranged from early morning to late at night. This was done to get a
well-rounded data set for all times of the day. Each site was assessed
prior to the initial study to determine how the site would be divided
into sub-sites. The first site, the larger of the two was divided into
seven sub-sites. They ranged from open grassland and farmland to wooded
areas and aquatic habitats (a stream and two ponds). The second site was
divided up into five different sub-sites. Four of them were in open
farm fields by the meteorological tower, and one was located in the
woods west of the tower.On each sampling day, an “area-search”
method was used to study the site. For this method, we spent 30 minutes
at each sub-site identifying and studying as many birds as we could
during that time period. The observer then rotated to a new site. The
order of sub-site visited was varied to account for the time of day and
the number of observers. We also noted any nests that were found at the
sites. Bird species were determined to be breeding if they exhibited any
of the behaviors used by biologists to establish avian breeding status
for the Second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas.
The purpose of this literature review
project was to identify the major social, economic, policy, and
environmental issues in renewable energy with a concentration
on community acceptance of wind energy initiatives. The project,
conducted by Dr. Lening Zhang and Dr. Teelyn Mauney of the The Rural
Center for Applied Social, Health and Behavioral Research, involved
conducting a systematic search and review of publications in
professional journals to provide a comprehensive summary of the issues. A
study of 320 journal articles indicated that professional publications
on renewable energy, particularly in wind energy, have increased
significantly. These articles have addressed a wide range of policy,
economic, social, and environmental issues. Although a large number of
the articles have concentrated on policy and economic issues in
renewable energy, the number of professional publications on
social issues, especially on social issues involving wind energy has
been rising since 2000.
The use of wind power in Pennsylvania was
actually relatively common in the late 1800s and early 1900s, as
electricity lines did not yet extend to rural areas. A student
interviewed individuals who remembered wind power.
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