Wind Power Projects

Norris Wind 'Lab' Tests Equipment

Norris Wind Turbine

Rice Ridge Renewable Energy Park near Norris, Montana, is one of three major wind resource areas in the state. The wind energy test facility resulted from a collaboration among Montana Power, several wind development companies, and the Energy Division of the State Department of Environmental Quality. The first turbine was installed at the site in November 1994. The photo shows the turbine, a Bergey Excel 10kW with 11-foot blades. The turbine is on a tilt tower that can be safely raised and lowered by a boom truck for inspection and servicing.

Montana Wind Energy Cluster Program

Engineers and scientists at the Wind Energy Cluster Program at Montana State University are studying wind turbine blade design and testing designs at a number of sites in Montana. The Wind Energy Program has two main focus areas in wind energy technology.

The first area concentrates on improving the structural performance of wind turbine blades so that they will meet severe service requirements over their design lifetime with minimum blade weight and cost. Blade weight and cost are significant elements in the overall cost of wind generated power, and improved technology can have a significant impact in this area. This program is now recognized as a major contributor by the National Laboratories and the wind industry.

The second focus area is to assist in the development of the outstanding wind resources in Montana and the region. Efforts to date have led to a major Avian study and a demonstration project at the Blackfeet Community College, both of which have received major independent funding in the last year. Continuing efforts will shift toward studies related to distributed generation in cooperation with Montana Power Company.

The Wind Program is well on its way to establishing facilities and expertise necessary to serve as a national resource in wind technology, with an increasing presence in National meetings and publications, as well as a significant impact on the educational program in the four participating universities and colleges and on local industry. The program includes studies of wind machines effects on birds.

The cluster includes 20 faculty working together from four institutions, plus state-agency personnel and a start-up manufacturing company. Among the faculty are senior members redirecting their careers, two faculty members from the Blackfeet Community College, young faculty members and an advisory board.

Wind Energy Cluster Program photo

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