Great Lakes ice won’t derail wind turbines — researcher

Source: E&E • Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A University of Michigan engineering professor said ice in the Great Lakes will likely increase construction costs for wind turbines being built in the area but will not be a deal-breaker for projects.

Speaking at the Grand Valley State University Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon, Mich., yesterday, marine engineer Dale Karr said his research had not found ice to be a “showstopper” that would derail construction plans, although he said more study was needed to be sure.

Protecting wind towers from ice has proved a vexing problem for engineers in the Great Lakes, and some say the area is more than a decade away from hosting wind farms — even though wind maps of the United States show the Great Lakes have some of the best wind resources and are convenient to Midwest electrical grids.

Karr’s research examined six possible ice scenarios and suggested building a cone around the base of the tower to let the ice break and crack before it damaged the wind tower (Dave Alexander, Muskegon [Mich.] Chronicle, Oct. 22).