On October 19, 2009, OWC became the first technology manufacturer/distributor in the U.S. to become 100% on-site wind powered by switching its daily operations energy needs over to a Vestas V39-500 kW wind turbine. Completely on-site powered, OWC can run its resource-conserving, low environmental impact Platinum LEED Certified facility and internet operations datacenter 100% on this renewable, non-polluting power source.
The 100% self-funded project can provide more than the current energy requirements of all OWC operations, and culminates the LEED initiatives for OWC's corporate headquarters, in Woodstock, IL, which opened in 2008.
The Other World Computing corporate campus was awarded LEED Platinum Certification in March 2010 by the Green Building Certification Institute. Platinum is the highest achievable level of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Program, which began in 1998. Out of more than 14,000 LEED projects engaged worldwide since the program's inception, OWC is one of less than three hundred to achieve the Platinum standard. With this recognition, OWC also became the first privately owned light manufacturing/assembly building in Illinois to obtain LEED Platinum status.
Technology Provider Becomes An Energy Supplier
The OWC wind turbine is projected to generate an estimated 1,250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. OWC chose this commercial model turbine to insure that there would always be adequate energy to keep up with our future growth.
As the turbine transforms wind power into energy, the power travels into the OWC facility to the utility company's metering device. After OWC draws off the power it needs, excess energy produced is sold back to the local power provider, thus making OWC a net supplier of sustainable energy to the McHenry County, IL, region in addition to being a provider of award winning technology to over one million Mac, PC, and iPod users around the world.
Designed Specifically For OWC Site
As part of the overall vision unveiled in 2006 for the new OWC corporate headquarters, the OWC wind turbine installation was designed to produce power at winds speeds as low as nine mph based upon the OWC campus site's average wind speed of 10-15 mph. The tower is 131 feet high with the blades extending the turbine's total height to 194 feet. The blade housing can rotate 360 degrees so it can turn facing into winds up to 150 mph. During extreme winds, the blades automatically go "flat" with the narrowest point into the wind, in essence, shutting the turbine down until it senses safe operational wind speeds.
Whenever there isn't adequate wind power generation, the local utility company will remain as the backup power source for OWC. Additionally, in the event of a combined wind and utility company power blackout, OWC has two additional on-site backup power systems so it can continue serving its customers without interruption.
Good For The Environment & The Bottom Line
The cost to install a wind turbine of OWC's caliber is typically $1.25 million with a Return On Investment (ROI) of 100% within 10-14 years based upon a 25% front-end investment and current energy costs. The actual ROI recovery period can be reduced significantly as energy costs increase.
The entire project, which was 100% self-funded, was put into motion because of the conservational benefits, as well as the future cost of energy. With the 2009 kilowatt hour rate in the Chicago market up 24.3% since 1999, using a clean power source technology makes good sense for the environment and the bottom line.
OWC's facility, with all of its energy saving technologies, is an ideal match for on-site wind power generation. The campus is designed to be vastly more efficient in resource utilization without sacrificing functionality. A Geo-thermal heating/cooling system circulates coolant through pipes that extend 200+ feet below the ground, where the temperature ranges between 47 to 54 degrees. Energy savings are achieved by eliminating the need to heat or cool the building depending on outside temperature extremes. This type of system, in place since the new facility opened, never required the use of natural gas or any external fuel type. Now, with the wind turbine online, OWC has become a true zero emissions facility, as well as an overall net producer of energy.
For More Information...
Due to the overwhelming interest in our wind project, we unfortunately are unable to personally answer additional questions beyond the information presented here. As OWC worked with ComEd, the City of Woodstock, McHenry County, the State of Illinois, and agencies of the Federal Government to bring the turbine project to fruition, questions about regulations regarding a project of this nature should be addressed directly to those entities.
However, there are many excellent sources available online for information on wind power. We have provided some links below, and also included links for some of the more frequently asked questions we have received.
Helpful Links For More Information:
American Wind Energy Association: http://www.awea.org/
Illinois Wind: http://www.illinoiswind.org/
Illinois State University Center for Renewable Energy: http://renewableenergy.illinoisstate.edu
Alternative Energy website, wind info page: http://www.alternative-energy-news.info
Small wind turbine info site: http://www.allsmallwindturbines.com/
Energy Planet Renewable Energy Directory: http://www.energyplanet.info