Wind Power Brews Up Outer Banks Suds

How did we not know about this? Wind powered breweries, you need to send us press releases. And samples! Definitely samples.

We’re prompted to this admonition by learning, more than five years after the fact, that Outer Banks Brewing Station, near where the Wright Brothers took first flight in North Carolina, runs (partly) on wind power. The local Triangle Business Journal ferreted out the news after Southern Alliance for Clean Energy included OBBS among 14 wind-power tourist attractions. (National Geographic was on the case early.)

image via Outer Banks Brewing Station

image via Outer Banks Brewing Station

The OBBS turbine is Bergey Windpower’s Excel 10 model, which is a good choice: This is one of just a few wind turbines that have been tested and certified by the Small Wind Certification Council, an organization formed to bring rigor to the performance claims of small wind manufacturers.

This is a map of wind's at 50 meters, but even at 80 feet up, the OBBS turbine is in good wind territory on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

This is a map of winds at 50 meters, but even at 80 feet up, the OBBS turbine is in good wind territory on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The SWCC says that a Bergey Excel 10 will produce 13,800 kilowatt-hours of energy a year given a set of assumptions that includes an annual average wind speed of 11.2 miles per hour. A key to the success of any distributed wind power project is putting the turbine on a tall tower. OBBS does pretty well with an 80-foot lattice tower. Here’s what they say the turbine gives them:

The turbine supplements the power we use here at the OBBS and saves us between $150 and $250 per month on our electric bill (depending on the month).  We use 100% of the power the turbine generates.  Net metering (or the selling of generated power back to NC Dominion Power) in NC is still not cost effective as Dominion charges us on average $ .11/kWh and pays us their avoided cost or approximately $.035/kWh for the same power!

The wind turbine was a $50,000 investment, which OBBS figures will be paid back in electricity bill savings, oh, sometime around 2020. (Editors note: Probably paid back in PR already.)

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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