A bulletin produced by Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality's
Air Quality Division
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
April 2009
Wind & Solar Power NDEQ Air Monitor

The NDEQ Air Quality Division has invested in an innovative system to power one of its ambient air monitors. Creative staff have developed a portable wind and solar electrical generating system. The system consists of a 200-kilowatt-per-month wind turbine coupled with a 4-kilowatt-per-day solar array. The wind turbine will be used as the primary electric generator and the solar array will produce supplemental power.

The system is designed to be portable so it can be moved throughout the state. One challenge the NDEQ faces when siting an air monitor in rural areas is finding a location with access to power. This system allows the Division to place monitors at any location because it produces its own power.

NDEQ’s air monitoring group designed a portable mounting frame on a trailer. The trailer houses all the components needed for the solar, wind, and air monitoring systems. At the monitoring site, the mounting frame expands and the eight solar panel modules are secured to the frame. The 50-foot wind turbine is secured on the ground next to the trailer.

The trailer will initially be located at the Scottsbluff High School and is scheduled to begin operation in late April or early May 2009. It will power a filter-based air monitor, which will monitor particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter. Currently, a particulate monitor is located in Scottsbluff at the library, but due to renovations to the building, the monitor needed to be moved. This provided an excellent opportunity to deploy the portable monitor.

The wind/solar hybrid system will provide an opportunity for Scottsbluff High School students to learn many different lessons related to the system. For instance, geometry and astronomy principles are used when deciding the placement of the solar panels. Additionally, the school may be able to use its own system to analyze the monitoring data. Not only will this system be a great educational tool, it also provides the public with an example of how wind and solar can be used on a day-to-day basis.

This isn’t the first time alternative energy has been used to power an air monitor in Nebraska. One of the continuous particulate matter monitors in Weeping Water has been operating exclusively on solar power since April 2005. That system is much larger than the one in Scottsbluff with 40 solar modules and the ability to generate 19.2 kilowatts per day. Because that system is a continuous monitor, it needs more power than the filter-based monitor that samples less frequently.

For more information about Nebraska’s ambient air monitoring network, read the latest Air Quality Report at www.deq.state.ne.us under Air Quality Publications.

For more information, contact

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
1200 "N" Street, Suite 400
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
(402) 471-2186 FAX (402) 471-2909