Love Circle alternative energy showcase project nears completion

A collaborative wind-solar alternative energy project between Vanderbilt University’s mechanical engineering department and Nashville Metro Water Services has picked up speed with the installation of a modest 3kW (kilowatt) wind turbine at the Love Circle site close to campus.

A. V. Anilkumar

Anilkumar said the small but efficient and quiet 3kW turbine was chosen based on the proximity of homes on Love Circle, neighborhood aesthetics and noise. The wind turbine is up and solar panels and fencing will go up soon, he said.

The hill atop Love Circle is one of the highest points in Nashville and the windspeeds at the hill are high enough for wind power generation, especially during the months November through April, he said.

“Solar energy will complement power generation in months May through October. Apart from being a showcase project for the community, the project also provides training in alternative energy production and project management to mechanical engineering undergraduates through the Energetics Laboratory program,” Anilkumar said.

Love Circle turbine
The wind turbine stands next to the wind monitoring station (right) and frames are ready for solar panels on the hill atop Love Circle near campus.

A website, accessible to the general public, is planned and it will provide up-to-date information on the power being produced with cumulative information on the daily, monthly, and annual yields from the facility.

The main purpose of the project is to examine the feasibility of alternative energy production through solar and wind facilities, and the expectation is that about 30kWh (kilowatt hours) of power will be generated on a daily basis. 30kWh is the average daily consumption of electrical power per household across the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In the first phase of the project, announced in October 2009, a wind monitoring station was installed on the hill to measure and establish analytical models for power production and confirm that a small-scale power generation project was feasible when scaled up appropriately. Total Quality Environmental, a Cookeville-based alternative energy company, is in charge of the installation.