Vanderbilt University and Metro Water Services will soon embark on a wind and solar energy project at one of the highest points in the city.
Vanderbilt’s mechanical engineering students will measure and monitor the wind and solar energy collected at Love Circle, which sits approximately 150 feet higher than the Nashville International Airport, said Amrutur Anilkumar, Vanderbilt mechanical engineering professor.
A sustainable amount of wind energy can be collected at high points during the fall and early spring, he said.
Metro Water has invested $97,000 in the project for wind turbines and solar panels.
The water company also provided the land near its Love Circle water reservoir. The five-year pilot project will determine the feasibility of placing wind turbines and solar panels atop office buildings and cell phone towers.
“We project that the turbines and panels will collect about 30 kilowatt hours per day – the amount gathered in the average household per day,” Anilkumar said. “The students will look at the data and power produced to see over time the returns of the alternative energy.”
Anilkumar and his students had been monitoring wind speeds at the site for more than a year, he said.
Once Love Circle was determined to have substantial wind speeds, Metro Water officials signed on to help fund the project. The equipment will be installed starting this month, and solar energy will be collected as early as this summer.
The wind turbines will likely not collect substantial energy until the fall, Anilkumar said. After the pilot program is complete, Anilkumar said he would determine if the alternative energy source could be used in remote locations in Middle Tennessee.
“About 100 of my students will receive training each year through this program,” he said. “With the alternative energy industry expanding, this will be able to prepare them for great jobs in this field.”
The project provides educational and research opportunities for now, but eventually Metro Water could use the alternative energy to pump water and sewage to its more than 354,000 customers in Davidson, Robertson, Rutherford, Williamson and Wilson counties, said Metro water spokeswoman Sonia Harvat.
The green power that is produced during the five-year period will be sold back to Nashville Electric Service, and Metro Water will be compensated, Harvat said.
“Electricity is one of MWS’s second largest budget items behind salaries, so this could be a way to go green and save money,” she said. “We have several stations in remote locations where this could be used.”
The project falls in District 18, where several constituents support environmentally friendly projects. Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde said she and many of the local residents agree lessening the dependency on electricity is a step in the right direction.
“Vanderbilt students and District 18 residents have a strong commitment to protecting our natural environment and finding smart solutions to challenges – this is a perfect fit for our neighborhood’s priorities.”
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