Wind-Powered Remediation at the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod, MA

In their Clean-Up Information website, the EPA reported that a wind turbine has recently begun operating at the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR) on Cape Cod, MA, and will produce 25-30% of the energy used by the remediation treatment. The Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment (AFCEE), which operates the wind turbine, is the lead agent for the Installation Restoration Program for the MRP.

The MMR is a military training facility which covers approximately 34 square miles. It contains an industrial area where for over 60 years fuels, solvents and other chemicals were used and, especially during WWII, waste disposal, spills, and leaks were common. The MMR sits atop the recharge area for the sole source aquifer known as the Sagamore Lens. The towns of Bourne, Mashpee, Sandwich, and Falmouth all rely on this aquifer for their drinking water.

AFCEE installed 105 extraction wells and constructed nine treatment plants, which are estimated to treat approximately 14.5 million gallons of contaminated groundwater per day. The EPA reported:

“An optimization program initiated in 2003 determined that the existing treatment systems collectively consumed 12,300 MWh of electricity each year, all of which was supplied by conventional power plants. This ‘upstream’ power production was estimated to annually emit over 6.7 tons of carbon dioxide, 11,833 pounds of nitrous oxides, 11,443 pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 418 pounds of particulate matter. Economic analysis revealed that this amount of electricity, purchased at a rate of $0.167 kWh, cost MMR over $2 million each year.”

The cost of the wind turbine was approximately $4.6 million. AFCEE anticipates capital expense payback in six to eight years, while the expected lifespan of the turbine is 25 years. Studies were conducted to assess the impact of the turbine on noise levels, radar equipment, resident and migratory birds, and other species of concern. To further or fully offset power demands at the MMR remediation, AFCEE plans to examine use of additional turbines.