In November 2010, engineering cadets from the Coast Guard Academy attended the Coast Guard Innovation Expo as a part of the Civil Engineering “Green Guardians” capstone project. The exhibit demonstrated the cadets’ goal to promote a cultural change towards sustainability at the Academy.
The project introduced a three-pronged approach to the sustainable possibilities of solar and wind energy and energy education. Through the capstone project, cadets created a polymerized vinyl chloride modular frame to house roof-mounted solar panels on the Academy’s engineering building, McAllister Hall.
Cadets also fixed wind sensors to a light pole adjacent to the Academy’s outdoor track and began collecting wind data. The wind data will be used to determine if the Academy waterfront is a feasible location for a potential wind turbine. In addition, the data will be used to compare other prospective sites around the Academy for optimum wind turbine location(s).
The project continued in 2011 as an independent study involving additional cadets from varying majors, allowing emphasis on research and wind data analysis. In the fall of 2011, Civil Engineering majors procured additional portable wind sensors and accessories to place above McAllister Hall, as well as to demonstrate at the Coast Guard Innovation Expo the progression of this project. These wind sensors will serve two functions. First, several wind sensors will be placed at various heights, to gauge wind speed and shear. Second, additional wind sensors will be placed a few feet off the ground to determine if wind loading could affect solar panels if they are to be installed onto a selected roof.
The wind sensor data obtained from various heights will be compared to data generated from a lower field to determine which location is more suitable for a wind turbine.
After the initial study is completed, the wind sensors can be moved around campus to determine if roofs of other select buildings can feasibly service solar panels. If wind data and roof load allow solar panels, the Cadet Sustainability Club and the Academy’s Civil Engineering Department will work together to build the PVC modular frames and spread solar technology and “green” education throughout the Coast Guard Academy. This enduring project will continue to educate cadets through on-going data collection and analysis, active site selection and installation of wind turbine and solar panel equipment, upkeep of current technology and investigation of future trends.
This article was originally published internally in the January 2012 Energy and Fuel Matters eNewsletter on the Coast Guard Energy Program's collaboration site.