From the GEO Archives: The Cleveland Crib

Wind energy accounts for approximately 1.5% of Ohio’s in-state energy generation. However, the economic benefits of the wind industry’s presence in Ohio are far greater and can be seen throughout local communities. Capital investments, job creation, opportunities for landowners, and support for community services – including school districts – are substantial.

Green Energy Ohio has supported wind development throughout our 20-year history. From the Ohio Wind Power Conference and Trade Show in 2002 to our Wind in Ohio Workshop in 2020, we have educated our members and supporters on the potential of wind energy. We have opposed policy initiatives that would undermine wind development. And, we have written letters of support for the LEEDCo Icebreaker Wind installation, a project to which GEO made an early and important contribution.

GEO’s predecessor, SEED, began to examine the prospects for off-shore wind in the mid-1990’s. Those early discussions led to the development of a feasibility study for how the necessary data for assessing the wind power potential on Lake Erie could be captured in a peer-reviewable format. The Cleveland Water Intake Crib was chosen as the installation site since it was the only structure in the Lake that could support a tower of the height needed for a reasonable estimate of the wind potential. Prior to this study, the only wind data from the Lake were from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) buoys at water level, and those data were only available for about six months of the year.

In March 2004 GEO received a grant from The Cleveland Foundation for wind monitoring equipment; this grant was followed by additional financial support from the George Gund Foundation, and the Steffee Foundation. The City of Cleveland provided support to assist with the equipment installation and Cuyahoga County supplied funding for data analysis.

The actual installation of the tower system took place from June to August 2005 and proceeded in three phases: The installation of the building anchors, reinforcements to the existing structure and the installation of the tower base section, and the installation of the upper tower section. The full data link via radio became operational in September 2005. Helicopters performed the crucial task of lowering the monitoring tower sections on to the Crib using an air-crane.

The day of the first helicopter lift was much anticipated and received media coverage throughout Northeast Ohio.

While much of the planning took place on land, the Cleveland Division of Water provided transportation of people, equipment and tools back and forth from shore. When conditions were rough or emergencies arose, the US Coast Guard safely transported workers.

Measurements were taken at nominal heights of 50, 40, and 30-meters above the water level, with two booms at each level. An anemometer and a vane were placed on each boom to record wind velocity and direction and for calculation of wind shear above the water. Additional measurements included air temperature, humidity, lake water temperature, solar radiation, and power system diagnostics.  A web-camera was also installed to monitor lake conditions such as wave action and winter icing.

Historical wind data from an OARDC weather station located in Hoytville, Ohio were used to compare the Lake Erie Crib data to data taken at Bowling Green in 2000 since, at the time, Bowling Green was the only site in Ohio with commercial wind turbines.  Data were used to estimate the annual energy production and capacity factors for representative commercial wind turbines, including one from Bowling Green Vestas model turbines. These data also provided a valuable benchmark against which computer generated wind resource maps could be calibrated.

There is no doubt that the Crib data represented a unique contribution to the possibility of a fresh water wind energy installation in Lake Erie.  Green Energy Ohio is proud to have played a central part in the project from conception to construction to data collection and analysis. 

For more information on wind energy in Ohio, please see the AWEA Ohio Fact Sheet

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