Ohio Environmental Council, August 18, 2015
We Ohioans are a modest bunch. We don’t like to toot our own horns. But the truth is we’ve got a lot to brag about – especially when it comes to clean energy. That’s why we’re rolling out a new, ongoing series that highlights these projects and in the process, shines a light on some of the amazing things happening right in our own backyard.
You probably already knew Ohio was the birthplace of flight but did you know we’re also the birthplace of wind energy? Yup, that’s right. Way back in 1888, an Ohioan by the name of Charles Brush built an enormous, first of its kind turbine that powered his home in Cleveland.
The turbine was so innovative that it was featured on the cover of Scientific American where they marveled over the 80,000 pound “wind dynamo.” Sadly, the dynamo is no longer standing, but any list of Ohio’s coolest clean energy projects would be incomplete without the first (and possibly coolest) project ever built in the buckeye state.
For decades, the City of Toledo was known as the Glass City because of the role it played in manufacturing glass. From car windows to plates and glass jars, if glass was involved, more than likely, so was Toledo.
So, it should come as no surprise that one Ohioan made a breakthrough in solar energy by leveraging the region’s glass making prowess. The result, First Solar. Today, the company is one of the largest in the world. Their American research and manufacturing facility in Perrysburg is home to more than 1,000 employees.
Famous for their iconic pop art cans and tasty soups, Campbell’s is making a name for itself as a clean energy pioneer by making big investments at its processing plant in Napoleon, Ohio.
A few years ago, they helped build a 60 acre, 9.8 MW solar array next to the facility that generates 25% of their energy needs. To top it off, they also built one of Ohio’s first commercial biodigesters which converts waste from its soups and sauces to energy. The biodigester generates another 25% of the plant’s energy needs while keeping the waste out of landfills.
Almost everything about the Blue Creek Wind Farm is big – the turbines (all 152 of them) are a whopping 476 feet tall! But the turbines themselves aren’t the only thing that’s big; its economic impact is equally massive.
In 2011, when the Blue Creek wind farm was built, it was the single largest private sector investment in the state of Ohio. Even after its construction, it is still boosting rural Northwest Ohio, pouring millions of dollars into local businesses and school districts. The impact of the project extends far beyond the cornfields of Van Wert County. In fact, The Ohio State University is powering 25% of its campus with electricity from the project.
Not that long ago, Paulding County, Ohio was a community that was struggling to adjust and adapt to a changing economy. The rural community was suffering from brain drain as young people left for better opportunities elsewhere. The county government was forced to cut funding to its economic development agency. Things looked bleak.
The construction of the Timber Road II wind farm has helped to turn that around – generating clean, renewable energy, and much needed money for local schools and farmers that lease their property. It’s no wonder some have called wind energy Ohio’s new cash crop.
Those are just a few of the awesome clean energy projects here in Ohio. What do you think? Did we miss your favorite? Let us know, maybe we’ll include it in the next installment of The Coolest, Most Awesome Clean Energy Projects in Ohio.
See the powerful impact wind energy has had in small town Ohio here.