OWC Launches Wind Turbine, Goes 100% Wind-Powered

We don't often cover fluff-press releases at The Mac Observer, but this is a cool one: Other World Computing (OWC) announced Thursday that it has become the first technology manufacturer and distributor to become 100% on-site wind powered, courtesy of a new wind turbine the company has been building for some time.

According to OWC, the turbine is projected to generate 1.25 million killowatt hours per year, which is more than twice the company's electricity needs across its entire operation, including its data center.

The firm's commitment to the environment also extends to the very building of the facility being powered. The building was build to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum specs, though it is still waiting official certification. LEED is a third-party certification program for energy efficiency, and the Platinum spec is the most stringent level of efficiency.

For the wind-power nerds: The tower is 131 feet high, and can generate power at wind speeds as low as 9 mph (average wind conditions for the area are 10-15 mph). The blades extend the height of the installation to 194 feet, and the blade housing can rotate 360 degrees in order to face into winds as high as 150 mph (the blades can go flat for extreme winds above 150 mph).

OWC head honcho Larry O'Connor told us earlier this year that the US$1.25 million cost of the installation is projected to pay for itself in 10-14 years with current energy costs. By extension, it would be sooner should energy prices increase. In the meanwhile, excess energy produced by the turbine will be sold to the local power company and fed directly into the grid.

Other features of the facility from the LEED Platinum specs:

  • Geo-thermal ground-coupled heat pump system
  • Fiber optic rooftop light-harvesting technology
  • High insulation value glass windows and exterior sunshade technology for reduced cooling costs
  • High insulation value materials throughout the building for reduced energy use
  • "Smart" sensors to detect and adjust energy in unused rooms
  • Permeable Paver system for environmentally friendly run-off water handling
  • Bio Swales landscaping for water conservation
  • Use of native plants and prairie grasses for water conservation
  • Sloan Waterless Urinals and dual-mode toilets for water conservation
  • Sloan high-efficiency hand driers in washrooms for energy/paper savings
  • High-efficiency drinking water filtration system to eliminate need for delivered water
  • Company-wide recycling with near zero waste generation
  • Facilities for employees to commute to work by bicycle
  • Low-impact cleaning products

The company has posted a photo gallery showing the wind turbine being built.

OWC Facility
OWC's LEED Platinum Spec Building

OWC Wind Turbine
OWC Wind Turbine