Guantanamo Bay Naval Station's New Wind Turbines
From American Forces Press Services we have just learned that the US Naval Station on Guantanamo Bay Cuba recently completed installation of a pair of wind turbines on John Paul Jones Hill, the base's highest point. Designed to meet a quarter of the base's average power needs during the windy months, the turbines have been providing between 5 and 12 percent of the base's power during the "slack" periods. Because the "time of day with the highest average winds [coincides] with the base's peak energy-usage period -- about 4 p.m.," the significance to peak demand is greater than you'd expect from just looking at the average figures. Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey M. Johnston, the base's public works officer, reported "the wind turbines would have the same effect as taking 2,500 cars off Guantanamo Bay's roads for a year." What makes this story really interesting is the setting. If you set about to measure overall system efficiency of a place like this, there's no masking noise from competing grids, water systems, roads, or municipal politics. It's a perfect place to test prototypes, to push the limits of self-reliance and study interacting forces. Sample questions to pursue: would the benefits scale up directly if 4 turbines were installed instead of just two? Why is peak consumption at 4:00pm? Cooking with electricity perhaps? Is demand management better at peak or at slack times, given the overlap of peak turbine output with demand peak?