Renewable Energy


Solar Power

Renewable Energy at Farmpark

Lake Metroparks has been at the forefront of providing publicly accessible, educational demonstrations of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
--Andy Baker, Administrator Lake Metroparks Farmpark.

The overall goal of Lake Metroparks is to
create a site that illustrates renewable energy generating technologies and interprets the ways in which solar and wind energy produces electricity and the food we consume. 

This provides another interpretive connection
to the ultimate energy source upon which agricultural production and life on earth
relies: the sun.
As a result of all of the site’s renewable energy features, visitors will be able to better understand the value of renewable energy for our food and future.

Over a year’s time, the diffuse energy of the sun drives the annual growth of the plant life in fields and forests that in turn sustains both animals and humans. Harnessing the diffuse energy of the sun and wind is not a new concept for humans. Consider that every bite of food we take is a bit of renewable solar energy. Since humans began farming they gathered the energy of the sun in the plants and stored it to provide energy for use year-round, particularly when the sun dips toward the Southern horizon in the dead of winter.

Over time, humans were able to literally harness more of the sun’s energy when they harnessed cattle and then horses. Wind energy, a product of solar energy heating the earth, has also played an important role in agriculture for thousands of years by pumping water and grinding grain and, in the last century, providing electricity to isolated farms.

The way energy flows through the agricultural production system – in the past, present and future – is a key theme of Farmpark’s interpretive program. Capturing solar energy for human consumption has been one of the ongoing themes of the programs at Farmpark, particularly in the Plant Science Center and the Dairy Parlor. Greenhouses are designed to let solar energy into a protected environment that shelters plants while encouraging growth by providing the maximum available sunshine when sunlight is at a minimum. The Great Tomato Works exhibit focuses on photosynthesis and the storage of energy in different part of the plants. In the Dairy, the theme is that of cows consuming stored solar energy in hay and passing it on to humans in milk.

Wind power

The wind turbine provides a fuller experience of green energy for our visitors and students as well as providing additional energy for the powering of our Farmpark facility,” explains Baker. “The experimental nature of this project will also provide additional opportunities to understand energy efficiencies and turbine design.”

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Wind Turbine Information

The turbine is part of a project designed to test and ultimately develop a more efficient small wind turbine acclimated to the conditions found in Northeast Ohio. The turbine being installed is a Bergey Excel 10 with a maximum 10 kW output at wind speeds of 27 mph. It is a three bladed turbine with a 23 foot rotor diameter. It will start producing at wind speeds of 5 mph and is designed for winds up to 134 mph. The unit will betide into the grid at Lake Metroparks Farmpark’s Plant Science Center. The tower has a 14 foot adapter on it designed to allow the turbine to be lowered for service.

The project is designed to test an industry standard turbine to establish a baseline and then test possible improvements to get greater efficiencies, power production and durability. After a year of gathering baseline data, the Renaissance Group has begun testing various component variants of the turbine system with the goal of determining what configuration of small wind turbine is best suited for the wind patterns found in areas like this part of Ohio.

Installation Company Information

The Renaissance Group, based in Kirtland, Ohio, is a consortium of highly skilled professionals specializing in appropriate technology consultation and implementation with special focuses on efficiency, conservation, renewable energy and green building. The Renaissance Group is involved in a number of renewable energy installations both locally and nationally including the research wind monitoring tower on the Lake Erie Cleveland water intake crib, as well as several wind turbine and solar projects at a number of Ohio schools through their Kilowatts for Education program.

Solar Tracker Exhibit

The solar tracker exhibit was designed to illustrate some of the science behind solar energy. the energy captured by the tracker’s solar panels powers an arcing aeration fountain in the west pond. during the winter, when the fountains are not needed, the energy from the solar tracker will go into the general electrical grid.

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(Focus on Energy, Farmpark Almanac PDF)