Alternative Energy

Published on October 27th, 2009 | by Derek Markham


Other World Computing: First 100% Wind Powered Tech Manufacturer in U.S.

Other World Computing (OWC) has become the first U.S. technology manufacturer to be completely powered by an on-site wind generator, which provides over double the energy requirements of the company’s operations, including its datacenter. The power is generated by a Vestas V39 500kW turbine, and any excess energy is sold back to the local power grid in McHenry County, IL.

Image: Other World Computing Turbine

Other World Computing Turbine

OWC’s project is self funded and provides power to all of the company’s operations, including and According to company, the new wind turbine will generate 1,250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, and in peak wind conditions will provide enough energy in a single week to power the company for an entire month.

“I made the decision to 100% self fund this project because of the conservational benefits as well as the future cost of energy. With the kilowatt hour rate in the Chicago market up 24.3% since 1999, it only makes sense to use technology to lower our usage and costs related to traditional power sources.” – Larry O’Connor, Other World Computing CEO

The wind turbine installation was designed specifically for OWC’s site, with the Vestas turbine sitting on top of a 131 foot high tower and capable of producing electricity in winds as low as 9 mph (typical conditions on-site are wind speeds of 1 to 15 mph). The company’s facility is a LEED Platinum design, so in addition to conserving resources, it is now producing renewable energy in excess of its needs.

In the event of low wind conditions or extremely high winds, the company’s energy backup is the local utility company, and OWC also maintains two on-site backup power systems, so customers can be assured of uninterrupted service.

In addition to the wind power system, the company’s headquarters also include a geo-thermal ground-coupled heat pump system, permeable pavers for run-off water handling, fiber optic rooftop light-harvesting technology, smart sensors to detect and adjust energy in unused rooms, a company-wide recycling system with near zero waste, and waterless urinals and dual-mode toilets for water conservation.

“Our campus is designed to be vastly more efficient in resource utilization without sacrificing functionality. As we do not use natural gas or any external fuel type for our heating needs, with the wind turbine now online, OWC has become an overall net producer of energy.” – Larry O’Connor Sr., OWC Logistical Manager

Hopefully, these kinds of success stories will spur other businesses to pursue the goal of becoming energy producers, covering at least some of the company’s energy needs.

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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!

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