As most people have realized, meteorologists’ predictions are not entirely foolproof – Mother Nature can always change her mind. But with renewable energy that relies on sun and wind, scientists have to be able to make some educated guesses as to where the wind will blow, and how much sun will shine. The sun is a little easier to predict through calculations based on latitude and elevation. Wind is slightly more elusive, and requires long-term studies to really determine how effective a location could be for wind power.
At least for Utah, that’s where the Anemometer Loan Program (ALP) comes in. Previously operated by the Utah Office of Energy Development, ALP will now be administered by Salt Lake Community College as part of their Energy Institute in Sandy, Utah. If businesses, developers, farmers, ranchers, or homeowners want to find out if their land is suitable for wind power, ALP can help them assess the success and feasibility to install a turbine or a wind farm.
As people submit applications to ALP, the program evaluates the site on difference criteria from existing wind resource maps, topography, accessibility, and proximity to transmission lines. Proposals that look promising are then loaned a 20 or 50 meter meteorological tower that can measure wind speed and direction at multiple elevations over the course of a year.
If the results look good, then they can move on to develop wind power with a bit of confidence. If the outlook isn’t so good, they can save their money and look at other renewable energy options that may be more successful.
Acquiring the program is one of Salt Lake Community College’s actions to expand their Energy Institute and help prepare more students for job opportunities in clean energy.