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Meet Jay Nygard: The Man With The Plan To Put Wind Turbines On Chairlift Poles

Jay Nygard is an engineer with a vision. Nygard is currently pitching big plans to help create green energy solutions for ski resorts across the globe.

In 2008, the sustainable energy veteran created Go Green Energy, a renewable energy firm that serves a wide range of clients. Nygard and his company create out of the box micro wind and solar solutions that are not only unique, but utilitarian as well.

Related: Wind Turbines at Ski Areas, Eyesore or Viable Green Energy

Nygard is a top-to-bottom designer with an eye for application. He is totally confident that green energy is the way of the future and says it’s only a matter of time before these wind turbines hit the mainstream. It’s important to note that Nygard is THE MAN in North America when it comes to vertical axis wind turbines. He was recently named the North American Rep for the industry leading, HI VAWT Technology Corporation.

“I have been named the US Technical Representative for Hi-VAWT Technology Corporation of Taiwan, thus I am the expert on the vertical axis turbines in North America. If there is a technical issue, I get the call. I have also signed on as a technical consultant in for large turbine install projects with Colite International of Columbia, SC.” – Jay Nygard

What is a vertical axis turbine? Visually, they are substantially different from the “windmill” style turbines most people are accustomed to seeing.

“Vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT’s) are when the blades spin around a vertical axis whereas horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT’s) )(propeller style) have blades that spin around a horizontal axis.” Jay Nygard

This design allows for a more compact, less invasive visual footprint that looks more natural than a massive windmill on the side of the mountain.

Find out more here: HiVAWT Technology Coportation

According to Nygard, the Hi-VAWT DS3000 turbine, is going to be a game changer once it becomes certified in the U.S. (*meaning it’ll be tax credit eligible). According to Nygard, These turbines can start turning speeds as low as 4-5 mph. Most importantly, they can use winds coming from any direction, where HAWT (windmill turbines) need to “find the wind.”

Related: Sugarbush Resort Goes Green By Switching To Paper Straws 

Given the terrain, elevation, and exposed nature of a ski mountain, wind power is a somewhat obvious choice. Properly placed vertical axis turbines could produce far more energy than solar systems and as such, Nygard has his sights set on placing turbines on top of chairlift poles. By studying wind patterns and locating high-wind chairlift poles, he plans on using the existing chairlift poles to mount the turbines.

“I have done the calculations for a 3 kW turbine on top of the mountain and the system will make over 2 times as much energy as a 3 kW solar system. What better place to put a turbine than on top of an existing chairlift pole in the mountains? These turbines have been installed in the Himalayan Mountains and a South Pole research station, so they work just fine in that environment” – Jay Nygard

What would this look like? The 18 foot turbines would be mounted approximately 10-20 feet above the top of each lift pole. Nygard estimates the total turbine system to stand 30-35 feet above the lift. The turbines would only need to be placed in high-wind areas and wouldn’t be necessary on every pole. The well-designed Hi-VAWT 3000 turbines can sustain winds up to 135 mph and can be locked out if necessary.

Nygard is thinking big with this idea. He wants to see large-scale implementation of wind power at ski resorts. Many resorts claim to be wind powered, but most turbines are located miles away from their use locations. That transfer of the electricity comes with massive inherent waste as it has to travel long distances before being used.

“I am stuck in the big picture and would like to see these turbines at all the resorts/ski mountains, everywhere. Many resorts publicize that they are “wind powered”, yet they have to buy the electricity form large turbine farms many miles away. Transporting this electricity has losses and the turbine farms typically needs to produce 2 kWh for 1 kWh to be delivered. This wasting problem is solved by producing the electricity onsite.  Companies like Vail Resorts and Aspen Skiing Company which own many ski areas and currently compete in sustainability programs would do very well incorporating these turbines.” – Jay Nygard

Nygard drew up a proposal for Arapahoe Basin in Colorado. He was in communication with personnel from the sustainability department and submitted a small-scale proposal. This project a turbine that would provide heating, lighting, and charging power for a particular ski patrol shack. Nygard also proposed the installation of two more turbines that would power the A-Basin road sign and light the tunnel that connects the upper parking lots. Nygard estimates this project would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000.

This idea may not be popular with everyone. There is a population who values their precious time in the mountains and don’t want to be looking at turbines that might disturb their view. Nygard points to the fact that there are already telephone poles and powerlines everywhere.

“To me the biggest plus is that they are quite attractive and can be mesmerizing when they are spinning. I call them ‘Yard Art with Benefits’. As for commercial companies like Aspen and Vail, even if they are not producing much energy at low speeds, their clients (skiers and boarders) will see them spinning, even from far away, and think positively about that resort.” – Jay Nygard

Nygard is confident that his turbines have the ability to take off as a sustainable energy solution for ski areas across the globe. In a time of rising energy costs and global warming, the idea of ski areas producing their own renewable energy is a no-brainer.

Find out more here: Go Green Energy 

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