|Plugged into the Midwest||| Print ||
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copyright by REX A. EWING
(originally published in Log Homes Illustrated in 2005)
When the cool west wind blows down the Cedar River valley east of Vinton, Iowa, bending the tops of the cottonwood and soft maple trees along the bank, it soon reaches a place where the river has cut a channel through an 80-foot limestone bluff. It is a constriction in the river valley which compels the air to move ever faster as it’s pushed through the narrow breezeway by the force of the air behind it. Meteorologists call it the venturi effect.
Dan and Kim, on the other hand, call it serendipity; for perched atop an 87-foot freestanding lattice tower—just 7 feet higher than the limestone bluff behind their 2-story log home—sits a Bergey 1500-watt wind turbine, lurking like a sleek and hungry predator waiting for the next opportunity to spring into action.
“The winds here aren’t particularly strong,” Dan explains, “but they are reasonably steady; over the course of the year, it’s enough to satisfy about 25 percent of our electrical demands.” The other 75 percent is provided by an array of ten Astropower 120-watt PV (photovoltaic) panels, mounted on a Zomeworks passive solar tracking unit, a clever mechanism that uses differences in fluid pressure, from the sunlit side to the shady side, to track the sun on its daily trek across the sky.
It’s a system Dan and Kim—a couple who seemed destined for an enduring love affair with renewable energy—are understandably proud of.