The results of a recent wind power study has taken some of the wind out of the sails of the Swampscott Renewable Energy Committee.
According to the report, the town is so dense it is impossible to locate a wind turbine anywhere in town and meet the state regulations, which prohibit a wind turbine within 1,000 feet of a home.
The studies got underway in January when, at the urging of former Renewable Energy Commission Chairman Lawrence Block, the Board of Selectmen approved wind power feasibility studies at Forest Avenue, the Phillips Park pumping station, Stanley School and Jackson Park.
According to Tara Gallagher, who is a member of the SREC, the site of the new high school initially looked promising, but the lower portion of the site and the athletic field are within 600 feet of homes.
If any of the sites had appeared promising, a test wind turbine equipped with an anemometer and other devices used to measure velocity, constancy and other factors would have been installed.
The setback with wind power isn’t deterring the committee from looking into other ways to save energy, however. The committee is currently compiling a list of projects, which includes a study of whether it is feasible to use geothermal energy to heat and cool Town Hall. If the feasibility study offers positive results, the heating and cooling system inside the town’s primary government building could be controlled by geothermal energy.
Geothermal heat pumps, known as geo-exchange systems, take advantage of the relatively constant temperatures – typically 45 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit – of the soil and water below the frost line to provide efficient heating and cooling year round. The energy exchange is accomplished through a series of pipes that extract heat from the soil and carry it through the system into the building.
In summer, the process is reversed as heat is pulled from the building, channeled through the system, and deposited into the cool soil.
By Debra Glidden
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