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August 29, 2005 North Coast Wind Assessment Initiative 
(Some information also in a June 24, 2005 presentation by AAron Godwin at Utility-Scale Wind Seminar in Cleveland)

Lake Erie Site is Nation's First Freshwater Offshore Wind Study
by AAron Godwin, former GEO Board Member

Since the mid-1990's, some Northeast Ohioans have been working to determine the feasibility of wind power on Lake Erie. The national wind map predicts the best Ohio winds over the lake, but the supporting data is weak at best.  No data above buoy height exists for the lake, and that data is only recorded for the warmer parts of the year.  The near shore data is also problematic because it is from airports that measure the wind at heights much lower than modern turbine heights. These measurements are also subject to ground effect turbulence. It has become quickly apparent that better data is needed before anyone will consider investing the millions of dollars it will take to develop wind electricity generation in Lake Erie.

Located approximately three miles out into Lake Erie, the water crib houses the main intake for Cleveland's municipal water supply. 


As seen in the above photo, the crib already incorporates photovoltaic panels, used to power Coast Guard navigational equipment. 

Offshore wind studies typically surpass a million dollars due to the cost of setting a foundation for an installation in the water. Fortunately, GEO discovered the solution sitting off Cleveland's shore - the Kirtland Pumping Station Water Intake Crib.

Completed in 1904, the 100-foot diameter steel and cement Crib sits inapproximately 53 feet of water, approximately 3.5 miles from shore and 5 miles from the pumping station. The Crib might have been one of the first offshore wind installations in the country back when people actually lived on the structure to ensure its safe operation. While still supplying water to Cleveland, it currently holds only warning beacons and Coast Guard equipment powered by a modern photovoltaic (PV) array. Designed to withstand the impact by ships, the structures robustness combined with its existing height and location make it the ideal candidate to hold a modern wind-monitoring tower; thus saving the massive cost of a new lake foundation.

The Water Intake Crib in Lake Erie is shown in a 1947 photo below. 

After several years of planning by volunteers, the project is moving forward and will be completed in two overlapping phases: (1) technical feasibility study and (2) community outreach and distance learning. We have obtained partnerships with the City of Cleveland, NOAA and regional Leaders, the support of the US Coast Guard and NASA, permitting from the FAA and solved the unique shore to Crib transport and installation issues by the planned use of an air-crane. With this progress and the support of the Cleveland Foundation, GEO is implementing phase one to perform the initial engineering and equipment feasibility studies.

A monopole wind-monitoring tower is currently installed at over 100 feet above the upper deck of the Crib, 150-feet above the water, with instrumentation positioned at three levels.  See diagram below:

Actual tower installation took place on July 25 and August 29, 2005:

Crib Tower Helicopter Drop (1)     

A Helicopter crane lowers the tower through a hole in the building roof.

 Crib Install

GEO project partners and volunteers put on guy lines after the lower tower is placed.

A base weather station with near real-time public access to data, a possible web-cam, a Crib to shore directional antenna, and an overall data acquisition system are also part of this project.  While this wind monitoring and community engagement project is not a mandate or guarantee of commercial wind turbines in the lake, it is an important step that may determine another source of clean renewable energy for Northeast Ohio.