Cleveland gets a lot of grief about, well, almost everything. Even though I personally think my hometown has a lot to offer (great museums, restaurants, markets, music, and ethic heritage) one thing that especially deserves some attention is its adoption of wind power.
It all started with a small turbine in front of a car dealership I used to pass on the freeway on my way downtown, before I ever knew I’d be working in the wind industry. I remember gawking at it and thinking “Cool!” The dealership even dresses it up in lights every Christmas.
Then I noticed the Great Lakes Science Center’s 225-kW model near the Browns Stadium and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Last August I got to attend welding company Lincoln Electric’s turbine dedication in Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland. The 2.5-MW model is the largest urban turbine in North America.
Just a couple weeks ago work started on installing an innovative turbine at the Cleveland Indians’ field. The fat corkscrew design was developed by the chairman of Cleveland State University’s department of engineering technology. A cylinder turns to face the wind and produce power more efficiently in low wind speeds without taking up as much space. The University also hosts a turbine of their own.
Case Western Reserve University has its own 100-kW model on campus, too, and is heading up a Wind Energy Research and Commercialization Center, which has erected a 1-MW model in Euclid to research ways to improve wind power and make it cheaper.
I continue to see models pop up here and there in Cleveland’s suburbs and I’m proud of the positive direction the city’s wind energy production is moving. Yes, these aren’t utility-scale projects, but they’re a strong start. Hopefully we’ll also soon see turbines in the waters of Lake Erie.
Though the city’s economy has taken a dive with the recession, wind could be just what it needs to reconnect with its manufacturing past and create jobs to give things a boost.
So kudos to Cleveland! We’re not perfect. But I think, at least in this way, we deserve a little respect.