About Us

Seacoast Consulting Engineers is a mechanical, electrical and energy engineering firm located in the seacoast area of Maine and New Hampshire.

We specialize in renewable energy system design and we pride ourselves on providing unbiased, practical advice on reducing energy costs. Our experienced professional engineers have an average of 20 years of experience each with the latter 5+ years specialized in renewable energy system design.  

Seacoast Consulting Engineers, LLC 
261 Jennie Lane
Eliot, Maine 03903
207-370-SCE0 (7230)
www.BetterEarthEnergy.com

In addition to engineering, we are also registered with the New England Power Pool as the Better Earth Energy Company. We provide services to aggregate and register renewable energy credits created by solar electric photovoltaic systems installed at homes and businesses. Please contact us if you own a solar electric system located in New England and would like to sell the RECs created by your system. We dont buy the RECs. We try to find buyers for your RECs.

Better Earth Energy Company, LLC 
261 Jennie Lane
Eliot, Maine 03903
207-370-SCE0 (7230)
www.BetterEarthEnergy.com

  

Below are some of our recent renewable energy design projects:

Solar Thermal Systems

Solar & Geothermal Heating at Varneys Cleaners & Laundry Center, Dover, NH

Wind Power on Cardigan Mountain, NH

Kittery, Maine Wind Turbine Project

Solar Assisted Heat Pump Design for Childlight Montessori School, Berwick, Maine

Wind & Solar Power System on Isle of Shoals, Appledore Island, Maine

Solar Thermal Systems

Seacoast Consulting Engineers are now Certified Solar Thermal System Installers, listed under the town of Eliot in the state of Maines list of certified installers. We dont do the actual installation. We instead work with your installer (licensed master plumber) to ensure the solar thermal installation meets Maines requirements to qualify for the Maine solar thermal rebate.

If youre considering having a solar thermal system installed at your home or business, please review the Solar Thermal information on our website. If you still have questions, please feel free to contact us by sending us an This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling us at 207-439-1721 ext 8.

If you live in southern Maine and are already in the process of having a solar thermal system installed by a licensed master plumber who is not yet a Maine Certified Solar Thermal System installer, we could still review the installation of your system to verify it meets Maines requirement for a rebate. By the way, it appears Maine will be increasing its solar thermal rebate from $1,250 to $2,500 beginning in January 2009. Stay tuned - well keep you updated.

Solar & Geothermal Heating at Varneys Cleaners & Laundry Center, Dover, NH

The goal of Jim Varney, owner of Varneys Cleaning & Laundry Center, is to make his facility as earth friendly as possible. He has already eliminated harmful chemicals from the dry cleaning process by replacing his traditional dry cleaning equipment with a state of the art process called "Green Earth Cleaning."

Additionally, Varneys Laundromat has installed several highly efficient front loading washing machines. Eventually all washers will be replaced with these highly efficient units. Seacoast Consulting Engineers is currently working with Jim and Key HVAC of Portsmouth, NH, to evaluate several options to make his facility even more energy efficient.

Some of the options being evaluating include:

  1. Recapturing the heat from hot water discarded from washing machines.
  2. Heating water use a solar thermal system.
  3. Heating water and the dry cleaning facility using a geothermal heat pump system.
  4. Recapturing discarded heat from dryers to both heat water and cool the Laundromat by using an air source heat pump water heater.

Wind Power on Cardigan Mountain, NH

Seacoast Consulting Engineers and Ayer Electric of Barrington, NH are working with homeowners on Cardigan Mtn to evaluate wind potential and to design a wind power system to meet nearly all their electricity requirements. Were designing the wind power system to allow the homeowners to qualify for the wind power rebate offered through New Hampshire Electric Coop.

Kittery, Maine Wind Turbine Project

Seacoast Consulting Engineers is working with the Kittery Town Manager and Kittery Energy Committee to evaluate and install a 50 kilowatt wind power system at Kitterys solid waste facility. Excess electricity generated from the wind turbine will be credited to the nearby Shapleigh Elementary Schools electricity account.

In October 2007 Kittery received notification that they were selected to receive a $50,000 renewable energy competitive grant from Maine Public Utilities Commission to support the wind power project. The Maine Public Utilities Commissions renewable energy competitive grant program is intended to support demonstration projects with the greatest potential of educating others as to the potential of renewable energy.

Solar Assisted Heat Pump Design for Childlight Montessori School, Berwick, Maine

Seacoast Consulting Engineers are designing a solar assisted heat pump system to economically heat and cool the new Childlight Montessori School to be built in Berwick, Maine. Pat Haas, owner and operator of this highly regarded school, has been saving and fund raising for the past 10 years to raise enough money to build a new, highly energy efficient building with the heating, cooling and hot water systems provided by renewable energy. Driver-Ryan Architects of Portsmouth, NH, is designing the Energy Star rated building. The artistic rendering of the new Childlight School was completed by Driver-Ryan Architects and shows the tremendous passive solar heat gains possiblle with the large south facing windows. Solar thermal panels will be located on the steep pitched roof just above the large windows.childlight01.gif

To help meet Pats "green" design requirement, including low maintenance and low energy costs, were designing a "solar assisted heat pump" system to provide the heating, cooling and hot water requirements for the new Childlight Montessori School. This system uses solar thermal energy collected via solar collectors which is stored in thermal storage tanks and then upgraded using a heat pump and delivered as useful energy for space heating and cooling and for hot water.

The geothermal and solar thermal heating and cooling system would have higher upfront equipment and installation costs, but would pay for itself within 10 years due to the lower maintenance and energy costs. The solar thermal hot water system could boost the performance of the geothermal heat pump system and provide low cost hot water to meet heating and hot water requirements of the school.

The system described above uses freely available but low-grade energy from the sun, which is then upgraded and delivered as high-grade energy. The upgrading is done by using a heat pump which is the heart of the overall system. Currently heat pumps have efficiencies in the 400% to 500% range. A typical high efficiency boiler, when first installed, is 80% to 95% efficient. The boiler efficiency is reduced during use as combustion of the fossil fuel creates deposits which line the inside of the boiler. Continuous maintenance of the boiler system is imperative to insure continued efficient operation of the system.

On the other hand, heat pumps are not involved in the combustion process. They simply transfer heat from the source (the ground) to the load (the building) during the heating season. In the warmer months, heat pumps work in reverse to transfer heat from the building back into the ground to air condition the building. Heat pump efficiencies are directly related to the input temperature from the ground source medium. So high efficiencies are continuously achievable with lower maintenance costs.

The heat pump efficiency is better known as the coefficient of performance (COP). For example, a heat with a COP of 4.0 has an efficiency rating of 400%. This means that for every unit (kilowatt) of electricity required to operate the heat pump, the heat pump delivers 4 units (kilowatts) of energy that can now be used to heat and cool the building.

When properly designed, a geothermal system is the lowest cost way of heating (and cooling) because it recycles renewable energy, rather than creating heat by combustion of fossil fuel. When combined with a solar thermal system, the heat pump system has the capacity to reduce harmful greenhouse gases by several tons of carbon dioxide when compared with the emissions from a boiler using heating oil. Actual data for northern New England shows that geothermal heating costs can be as low as half the cost of oil heat and about three times cheaper than propane.

The heat pump needs electricity to operate, which is the only source of possible environmental concern for a geothermal system. The solar thermal system requires a very small amount of electricity to operate the circulation pumps. The geothermal system and the solar thermal system themselves produce zero local pollution. The solar thermal design qualifies for the Maine solar thermal rebate.

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Wind & Solar Power System on Isle of Shoals, Appledore Island, Maine

Those who visited or cruised by the Isle of Shoals on their boat this summer were treated to an unusual sight on Appledore Island, an off-balanced one, two or three-bladed wind turbine, depending on your point of view. The faster the wind speed, the lower the blade count. ios003turbine.jpgThe wind turbine really does have three blades as verified by the photographs to the left and at the top of this website. The reason for the optical illusion is because the turbine has two blades painted white and one blade painted black. The Inland Fisheries & Wildlife requested the turbine have one black blade to make it easier for the large migratory bird population on Appledore to see the turbine. The color scheme appears to be working since there have been no bird kills since the turbine began operating on June 29th, 2007, despite the fact that the nearly constant winds have kept the turbine blades spinning each day, 24 hours per day with little down time.

The installation of the wind turbine on Appledore to supply "green" power to the Shoals Marine Lab has been in the planning stages for more than 5 years. The Shoals Marine Lab is a joint venture between the University of New Hampshire and Cornell University. Ross Hansen, Operations Manager for the Shoals Marine Lab, has long wanted to take advantage of the abundant wind resource available on Appledore to reduce its dependence on diesel fuel generators. The high cost to design and install such a system greatly exceed the Shoals Marine Labs limited budget.

The idea of wind power being generated on Appledore took a closer step to reality when the University of New Hampshires AIRMAP research project receive notification in Fall 2005 that it would be participating in a world wide effort in January 2008 to collect climate change data. Kevan Carpenter, Project Director for the Climate Change Research Centers AIRMAP program, decided to look into the possibility of using some of his limited funding to pay for the installation of a wind power and battery system to provide power to his monitoring equipment year round.

UNHs AIRMAP climate change research project is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is part of a world wide effort to monitor air pollutants which contribute to climate change. The AIRMAP project has established monitoring stations throughout New England, including Mt. Washington and the Isle of Shoals Appledore Island. On Appledore, the AIRMAP equipment is installed within the facilities of the Shoals Marine Lab and is powered by the Labs diesel generators. Since the Lab only operates from April through September, however, power is only available to the AIRMAP equipment during that time. So each April the climate change monitoring equipment is shipped from UNH to the sixth floor of the old World War II era radar tower on Appledore. Air samples are collected from April until the Shoals Marine Lab, and its power system, are shut down at the end of September. The AIRMAP equipment is then removed and shipped back to UNH until the following April. The tallest building on the right side of the photograph below is the World War II era radar tower.photo   8.jpg

The AIRMAP project has been operating seasonally on Appledore since 2001. The data recovered to date has been extremely valuable in better understanding the air quality dynamics between the marine and continental air masses and thus our understanding of air pollution in the Seacoast Region. With the data collected to date it became evident of the need to collect data year round and get a full picture of the air quality processes occurring in the region. The AIRMAP team worked with the Shoals Marine Lab team to figure out how to supply power to the AIRMAP equipment during the time when the island is uninhabited when no power is available. Funding was also a big issue since any funds used to pay for a wind power system were to be taken directly out of AIRMAPs research budget, which meant AIRMAP had less funds to procure necessary monitoring equipment.

Several local engineering firms and electrical contractors offered their services either at no cost or at greatly reduced fees to help make it possible to install a wind and solar power system on Appledore to support the AIRMAP project. Those firms include: wind power and battery system design and wind analysis by Seacoast Consulting Engineers of Eliot, Maine, wind power and battery system installation by Ayer Electric of Barrington, NH, and solar electric (PV) system installation by KW Management of Nashua, NH and Bear Electric of South Berwick, Maine. A specially designed tilt-up monopole tower was designed and installed by Northeast Wind Energy of Central Village, CT. Abigail Krich, a renewable energy project developer for Tamarack Energy of Essex, CT, completed the solar electric system design.

Steve Drouilhet, formally of the National Renewable Energy Lab and now with Sustainable Automation, Boulder, Colorado, has experience with designing wind and diesel hybrid power systems for remote villages in Alaska. Steve was contacted by and advised Seacoast Consulting Engineers on the design of this project. Steve also volunteered all of his services.

Permitting Issues

Once a decision was made to install a wind turbine, Hansen and Carpenter immediately started the long permitting process. To install a wind turbine on an island that is home to a huge migratory bird population and a seabird nesting island for Black-back and Herring Gulls required approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) and Inland Fisheries &Wildlife (IFW). The requirement for the blade color scheme came from the IF&W.phmonopolegood.jpg

Additionally, the MDEP and the IF&W required the wind turbine to be installed on a tower without guyed wires and a tower that could easily be taken down on short notice. The IF&W required this additional safety feature should bird deaths or injuries due to the turbine become significant. Northeast Wind Energy had already developed a tilt-up monopole tower design that met the requirements of the IF&W. With a counterweight equal to the weight of the wind turbine (1,000 pounds), the tower and turbine could easily be tilted down by a single person in less than 5 minutes.

In addition to receiving approval from the State of Maine protection, approval was required from the Star Island Corporation, who owns Appledore and leases a portion of the island to the Shoal Marine Lab. And finally approval was required from the town of Kittery, whose jurisdiction Appledore falls under.

All approvals were received approximately one and half years after the process began.

Energy Use Summary

To meet its energy requirements, the Shoals Marine Lab has in place one 30 kilowatt diesel generator and two 65 kilowatt diesel generators. The 30 kilowatt generator is operated early in the season and late in the season when the electricity demand is low. Once power requirements exceed 30 kilowatt, the 65 kilowatt generators are brought on-line.

Each 65 Kilowatt generator operates continuously for approximately 15 days and then functions as the back-up generator when the other generator is operating. The only time the 65 KW generators are operated in parallel is during the transition period of starting up one and shutting off the other. All generators provide 480 Volt, 3-phase power.

AIRMAP Power Requirements

UNHs climate change monitoring equipment require up to 2.5 kilowatts of continuous power. The wind ios005kc.jpgturbine and battery back-up system are sized to ensure the equipment operates with minimal down time throughout the year, including throughout the winter months when the island is uninhabited. UNH also anticipates more monitoring equipment being placed on-line as the research program expands. The wind, solar and battery backup system are sized to meet the expected continued growth of the AIRMAP research project. Kevan Carpenter, Project Director, UNH Climate Change Research Center, is shown with some of AIRMAPs equipment on the sixth floor of the radar tower. The actual sensors for AIRMAPs equipment is located on the roof of the tower.

Energy Storage System

To minimize the "down" time when no power is available to the monitoring equipment it is necessary to store the excess energy produced by the wind and solar electric systems (during windy, sunny periods) to then be used during periods when there is no sun or wind. Various types of energy storage systems were considered; including hydrogen storage, super capacitors and flywheels. All three of these systems were eliminated from consideration due to the high cost of each system, the problems with safety and/or reliability in a harsh, unattended environment.

In the end, it was decided that sealed batteries where the safest, most cost effective way to store excess energy. The sealed batteries are a readily available technology that can withstand the harsh winters on Appledore, they require no ventilation and no maintenance and have a 20 year operating life.shoals equip sm.jpg

Seacoast Consulting Engineers developed battery sizing and wind power generation models to predict how the turbine power is generated, stored, and delivered to the load on a monthly basis. The results of these models show that the sealed batteries are more economical in the long run when compared to the less expensive flooded cell batteries.

Three parallel strings of GNB Absolyte IIP sealed batteries are shown on the right side of the photograph.

Description of Wind/Solar/Battery System

A 7.5 kilowatt Bergey turbine was installed on the 80 foot tilt-up monopole tower. Ayer Electric installed the turbine and wired the wind power and battery storage system. The tilt-up monopole tower was installed by Northeast Wind Energy. The wind causes the blades of the turbine to spin, generating "wild AC," which is a general term to describe the variable voltage, variable frequency output directly proportional to the variable wind speeds. This "wild AC" is transported along a 2,000 foot length of cable until it reaches the old radar tower. Once inside the radar tower, the voltage is transformed down from a maximum of 200 volts AC to 50 volts AC. The Bergey controller then converts the 50 volts AC to 48 volts DC (direct current), which is then stored in the 48 volt DC battery bank. The GNB sealed batteries have the capability of storing up to 1,800 amp-hours at 48 volts DC.

A 2,280 watt solar electric (photovoltaic) system was designed by Abigail Krich. This system waspv pnl sm.jpg installed and wired by KW Management and Bear Electric. The panels are installed on the roof of one of the three dormitories on Appledore. At the time of the solar electric panel installation, six students from UNH, Cornell University and Olin Engineering College were working as interns for the Shoals Marine Lab. All six students participated in the solar electric panel installation. The solar electric panels produce up to 84 volts DC during peak sunshine periods. The 84 volts DC are transported along a 250 foot length of cable until it reaches the old radar tower. Once inside the radar tower, the Outback Power System controller converts the 84 volts DC to 48 volts DC, which is then stored in the 48 volt DC battery bank.

With the exception of the electric hot water heater in the dormitory, all electrical loads within the old radar tower and within the dormitory (with the solar electric panels on the roof) are powered from batteries, and are therefore powered from the wind and solar power systems. When any of these electrical loads require power, the three Outback Power System inverters convert the 48 volt DC power to 120 volts AC power. The three inverters are wired together so that they actually provide 208 volt 3-phase power to the existing 208 volt 3-phase power panel.

The short term plan for the Shoals Marine Lab (hopefully next summer) is install additional solar electric panels on the roof of the other two dormitories.

The long term plan for the Shoals Marine Lab is reduce their dependence on the diesel generators and fossil fuels by potentially installing a larger turbine. The small 7.5 kilowatt wind turbine installed this summer on Appledore is intended to be a test case. If the turbine can operate for a full year without killing or injuring birds and if the residents and visitors to Appledore and Star Island do not find the turbine visually offensive, then more wind power, along with the solar power, may be coming to Appledore and Star Island.

 

Summary of Wind / PV / Battery System Performance to Date:

 

Summary of Wind / PV / Battery System Performance to Date:

Month Number of Days per Month Energy Produced From Wind
(kWh)
Energy Produced From PV
(kWh)
Total Monthly Wind & PV Energy Production
(kWh)
Average Hourly Energy Production
(kW)
*Value Of Energy Production at $0.15/kWh
Jul-07 31 859   859 1.2 $129
Aug-07 31 899 232 1,130 1.5 $170
Sep-07 30 995 177 1,172 1.6 $176
Oct-07 31 920 126 1,047 1.4 $157
Nov-07 30 1,061 75 1,136 1.6 $170
Dec-07 31 2,560 66 2,626 3.5 $394
Jan-08 31 2,534 81 2,616 3.5 $392
 Feb-08  29  2,193  113  2,306  3.3  $346
Totals   12,021 870 12,890 2.2 $1,934
  *Value of capturing sun & wind energy on a remote island to create electricity to power  
  climate change monitoring equipment – Priceless!    

 


To find out more about AIRMAPs research project, view data and the Appledore web cam, please visit their website http://airmap.unh.edu/.

To find out more information about the Shoals Marine Lab, please visit their website: http://www.sml.cornell.edu/.

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Seacoast Consulting Engineering
Located in Eliot, Maine
Professional Mechanical
& Electrical Engineers
Providing Energy Evaluations,
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207-370-SCE0 (7230)

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55 Logging Road
Cape Neddick, Maine 03903
Designs, Constructs & Maintains
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207-363-4844
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