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A study in Harford County could tell farmers if there’s enough sustained wind strength to economically generate electricity for their operations.
For the past year, a farm in Black Horse, on the northwestern side of the county, has been home to a temporary measuring station, an anemometer perched on a 100-meter tower that captures wind speed and directional data that is in turn stored on a computer.
The measuring equipment is owned by the nonprofit Harford County Agricultural Marketing Cooperative, and the data is being collected and analyzed by the Maryland Environmental Service under contract with the cooperative.
Initial data produced by the study on the David Rose farm has been encouraging, Charles Day III, secretary for the cooperative, said.
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“The readings so far show pretty good winds,” Day said. “It was really looking good last winter, in the 21 miles an hour range.”
Day said winds of that magnitude should economically support power generation for on-farm uses, such as powering grain dryers or dairy milking and refrigeration equipment. Rose, whose farm is the test site, is a major grain grower in the region.
Even though northern Harford County has previously been identified as a potential wind power generation location, Day said the cooperative’s studies are aimed at helping local farmers, not commercial wind power producers, make decisions about using wind power to generate electricity for their operations.
Still, Day said state law would permit a farmer who generates excess power to sell it to the commercial grid, if the farmer is willing to “jump through all the hoops” to do it.
The Rose farm was the first in the county to be tested. Day said the cooperative acquired the testing equipment from the state, which has a similar program, under the belief many Harford farmers would be interested in gauging their properties’ wind power potential.
With the data collection at the Rose farm due to end next month, the cooperative is looking for another local farm to participate in the no-cost study.
Day said the equipment will be set up at the new test and data will be collected for 12 months.
The goal is to determine wind strengths 100 meters above ground on a continuous basis. This information can assist in making decisions about whether the use of wind-generated electrical power is a worthwhile option for the site that is studied.
The Agricultural Marketing Cooperative pays the costs for setting the equipment in place, providing data collection and maintenance support costs during the study and for removing the equipment when the study is completed. There are normally no monetary costs to the farm.
Interested Harford County farmers should contact Bill Tharpe, the cooperative’s president, 410-838-6181, ext. 114, for further information.
The wind power measurement and other cooperative programs are open to all farmers in the county, Day said.
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