Smoky Hill Wind Farm

 

Smoky Hill Wind Farm

Ellsworth and Lincoln Counties, Kansas
 
Field Geomorphology
Brian Lawson, Lyal Miller, Scott Bowles
Fall 2011
 
 
Table of Contents
Introduction
 
Geomorphology
 
Conclusion
 
References
Introduction
 
Located approximately 20 miles west of Salina, Kansas, the Smoky Hill Wind Farm is located in both Lincoln and Ellsworth Counties.  Coming online in February 2008, Phase I of the wind farm involved more than 30 landowners and 12,000 acres of land(Tradewind Energy, 2007).  In December 2008, Phase II of the project was completed, adding over 80 more landowners and 14,000 acres of land.  In all, the site encompasses over 20,000 acres, with over 110 landowners receiving royalties from the electricity produced(Kansas Wind Energy Projects, 2011).  Of the total acreage involved with the wind farm, only 1-2 percent is taken up by the actual footprint of the bases of the towers and roads throughout the project area.  With Phase I and II online, just under 250 MW of electricity are produced at peak by 56 Vestas V80 turbines which produce 1.8 MW and 99 GE 1.5 MW turbines(Kansas Wind Energy Projects, 2011). 
 
Ground View, Smoky Hill Wind Farm
 
Geomorphology
 
Ellsworth and Lincoln counties are located in central Kansas, and the Smoky Hill Wind Farm is located approximately 20 miles west of Salina.  The farm is located in the Blue Hills region of Kansas, which are considered a subdivision of the Smoky Hills region.  The turbines actually sit on the escarpments which distinguish the Blue Hills from the surrounding Smoky Hills.  The Greenhorn Limestone is located in this area and is known for the flat slabs of rocks used for fence posts, giving the region the nickname of Post Rock Country(GeoKansas, 2005).  The underlying bedrock in this area consists of the Dakota Sandstone Formation.  Elevations in this area range from around 1,440 feet in the Saline River valley to higer than 2,600 feet at the subregion's boundary with the High Plains in northeastern Finney County(Aber, 2009).  Most of the Blue Hills consist of gently rolling hills and undulating plains with slight local relief(Aber, 2009).  Northeast of Ellsworth, where the wind farm is located, some relief can reach up to 300 feet(Aber, 2009).
 
 
Climate
 
The Smoky Hill Wind Farm is located in Lincoln and Ellsworth counties, where the average annual temperature is 53 degrees, the average precipitation is 29 inches per year.  Average wind for the area is 12 miles per hour(Dellinger, 2008).  The lack of huge amounts of rainfall in this area prevents a lot of runoff from happening.  The average wind speed is high enough to keep the turbines generating electricity.
 
 
 
Drainage
 
This wind farm is located on the top of a drainage divide, the Saline river is north of the farm and runs from east to west, and Smoky Hill River is located to the south and runs west/northwest to east/southeast.  This causes the area in between to be at a higher elevation, therefore recieving greater wind velocity and making it a prime place for this wind farm. The overall drainage pattern appears to be dendritic because the system branches out like tree branches and the ground consists of homogeneous rocks. The Greenhorn has remained higher in elevation due to the fact that it is more resistant to erosion than the surrounding areas. 
 
Vegetation/Land Use
 
In the area where the Smoky Hill Wind Farm is located, land use is focused primarily on grazing land for cattle.  This occurs mainly on the hillsides where the turbines are located.  In the area around the hills, the dominant use of land is agriculture cropland.  The footprint of the site does not take away from any of the agricultural use of the land on which it is situated.
 
References
 
 Aber, J.S., Aber, S.W.  2009.  Kansas Physigraphic Regions--Bird's Eye Views.  Kansas Geological Survey, Educational Series 17, 76 p.
Bayne, C.K., Franks, P.C., and Ives, W., Jr., 1971, Geology and ground-water resources of Ellsworth County, central Kansas: Kansas Geological Survey, Bulletin 201, 84 p.
Dellinger, Dan. "Wind- Average Wind Speed- (MPH)." NCDC: * National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) *. National Climatic Data Center, 20 Aug. 2008. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/online/ccd/avgwind.html>.
"GeoKansas--Places to Visit--Post Rock Country." Welcome to the Kansas Geological Survey. Kansas Geological Survey, 20 June 2005. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Extension/KSplaces/visit12.html>.
"Kansas Wind Energy Projects - Utility Scale." Kansas Energy Information Network. Kansas Energy Information Network, 2 Nov. 2011. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. <http://www.kansasenergy.org/wind_projects.htm>.
"TradeWind Energy." TradeWind Energy. Tradewind Energy LLC, 2007. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. http://www.tradewindenergy.com/Project.aspx?id=226.
 

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