Wind turbines will soon be spinning at the Massachusetts Military Reservation. And military leaders hope they will help clear the air.
In the next two years, Air Force and Army leaders plan to install as many as seven wind turbines to power some of the base’s electricity-hungry groundwater treatment plants.
“It seems to be very fitting that the base is starting to move more in this direction,” said state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles. “It is really exciting that the leadership of the Massachusetts Military Reservation is starting to put resources to this task.”
Military leaders say the turbines could drastically cut their consumption of electricity made from fossil fuels, in turn cutting greenhouse gas emissions produced by power plants.
“There are environmental costs to environmental cleanups,” said Jon Davis, of the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment at the military reservation. “We want this in the public’s minds when we start shutting down extraction wells.”
Last year, the Air Force and the Army spent $2.2 million and $300,000, respectively, on electricity to run their groundwater cleanup systems on the Upper Cape.
The treatment facilities – 13 buildings and trailers in all, with a 14th going online next year – purify the contaminated water by pumping it in and out of the ground and through cleanup tanks.
The facilities run around the clock every day of the year.
Rose Forbes, Air Force turbine project manager, estimated that the millions of dollars of electricity used by the military generates thousands of pounds of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides and millions of pounds of carbon dioxide air emissions.
And that’s something cleanup program managers hope environmental regulators will consider as the treatment systems mature and the plants become less efficient, even though that scenario is still decades away.
“You cross that line where you are doing more damage than good,” said Hap Gonser, Army groundwater study program manager.
The Air Force is under contract to build a 398-foot, 1,500-kilowatt turbine.
The turbine – which will cost $4.6 million and should be complete by 2009 – will be built in the southwestern portion of the base. It will be visible from Route 28.
When it’s complete, Air Force officials expect the single turbine will reduce the amount of electricity they need to buy from fuel-burning power plants by 30 percent.
The Army is in the initial stages of planning six smaller turbines that could be built in three different locations, with an estimated cost of $700,000 per site.
Gonser said his goal is to have the turbines generate 100 percent of the electricity used by the program – although the size of the turbines, and the environmental benefit, will depend on what is most economically feasible.
“We see it as a cleanup system optimization,” Gonser said. “You’re using less fossil fuels and creating less air pollution.”
Plus, he said, the small turbines could be donated to other base entities after the cleanup program finishes using them.
October 09, 2007
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