Energy City Insights

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Energy City Insights - Wind Energy in Elk River

Energy Awareness Month

Elk River is excited to again partner with Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (MMPA) to add another renewal energy demonstration site in our city. The Youth Athletic Complex (YAC) is now home to a 160 kilowatt (kW) wind turbine. The turbine’s location will allow athletes, families and residents to see a wind turbine up close. But how does wind energy work exactly? 

Wind turbines, also called windmills, have made big technological advances in the past decade, collecting and converting kinetic energy from wind into electricity to be used in the grid. When the wind blows it pushes the blades in a circular motion, turning the shaft inside the nacelle (mechanical center portion of the turbine). The spinning turbine blades and shaft is called kinetic energy (energy in motion). A large gear inside the nacelle powers a smaller gear, moving at a faster rate, which rotates the generator to create electricity. This is the process of converting kinetic energy into electrical energy. 

A typical wind turbine will generate electricity when winds reach six to nine miles per hour (mph). They will shut down when the wind is blowing too hard (roughly 55 mph) to prevent damage to the equipment. Elk River’s turbine’s blades will begin moving at eight mph and it will start generating electricity at 12 mph. Wind power is the largest source of renewable electricity in the county today with over 60,000 turbines across the county. 

Our wind turbine stands 80-feet off the ground with a maximum blade height of 215-feet. Although some may be concerned about birds with the blade height, wind power’s impact on birds is extremely small compared to other sources, such as collision with buildings and loss of habitat. The turbine will produce energy to be used locally within our system. In October, it produced 5,538 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy and reached a peak production of 155 kW in a single day. 

 Check out the links below to learn more about wind energy and be sure to visit our wind turbine at the YAC soon: