8:25 a.m., Aug. 31, 2015--According to a recent Department of Energy report, wind power is expected to contribute 35 percent of the nation’s energy by 2050, up from 5 percent today.
Since 2010, the University of Delaware has been a leader in
generating carbon-free energy. This past June, UD marked the fifth
anniversary of the installation of the wind turbine (a Gamesa G90-2.0 MW model) located on the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, a joint collaboration between UD and Gamesa.
The turbine has generated 23.47 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of
electricity over the past five years, more than enough renewable energy
to power the laboratories, offices and other buildings on the Lewes
The Lewes Board of Public Works purchased 5.35 million kWh of the
surplus electricity. This is enough surplus energy to power
approximately 108 average homes per year for five years.
In total, the turbine has displaced approximately 17,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“The turbine has performed splendidly, generating carbon-free energy
for UD and the people of Lewes, who also have embraced the wind turbine
as representing progress toward clean energy” said Jeremy Firestone,
professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment’s (CEOE) School of Marine Science and Policy (SMSP), and director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.
“While the clean energy aspects of the wind turbine have been
important, the hallmark of its presence have been the research, teaching
opportunities and partnerships it has afforded,” added Mohsen Badiey,
acting dean of CEOE.
Fueling wind research
The 2-megawatt turbine includes a 256-foot tower, three 144-foot
blades and a 160,000-pound nacelle. Installed by First State Marine Wind
LLC (FSMW), a joint venture between the UD-owned Blue Hen Wind and
Gamesa, it is the only commercial sized wind turbine in Delaware.
According to Firestone, one of the project’s major successes is the
research and development cooperation made possible by the partnership.
Proceeds from the energy sales above and beyond those dedicated to
ongoing operation and maintenance of the turbine have been used to fund
wind energy research and development projects.
One research study, for example, looked at the turbine’s impact on area birds and bats.
The turbine sits just one kilometer from the Delaware Bay, which is one
of the world’s most important international migratory avian stopover
locations. That study showed that the turbine had a very low impact on
A follow-up study with partners at Delaware State University that
focused on bats provided an opportunity for Gamesa to test its new Bat
Shield control software that considers time of day and year,
temperature, wind speed and direction, and allows wind turbine owners to
modify a turbine’s operations to account for circumstances that
indicate the likely presence of bats. FSMW now routinely modifies the
wind turbine’s operation to better protect bats during migration
The UD wind turbine was also the test site for Gamesa’s first
generator customized for the United States in 2012.This test provided
the first opportunity for Gamesa to exchange a generator using the
internal crane system built into the 2-megawatt turbine, Philippe
Delleville, Gamesa’s vice president of services, said.
Other projects have studied wear and tear on the turbine’s drive train, and whether salty coastal air produces corrosion on the machine’s intricate mechanisms.
A year later, in 2013, UD inked a three-year agreement with the
Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation (DEMEC) for the sale of
renewable energy credits associated with the generation of wind energy
by the wind turbine, with proceeds going to support wind energy graduate
student research fellowships in CEOE.
Additionally, to date, five UD students have earned specialty
certification to climb the 256-foot tall turbine, a unique skill that
will help them stand out when applying for careers in the wind industry.
Educating more than students
While UD students visit the turbine regularly as part of their
studies, Firestone said UD’s proximity to Washington, D.C., has made the
turbine a popular destination for federal institutions and developers
eager to expand their wind power knowledge, too.
In 2011, for example, UD hosted representatives from the U.S. Energy
Information Administration (EIA), who were interested in observing the
operation of a wind turbine up-close and learning more about UD’s wind
energy research and activities.
Locally, the turbine has been used to teach local first-graders about wind power through a collaborative project between Delaware Sea Grant
and Smyrna Elementary School teachers. The educational field trip was
developed to expose children to science and technology in action, while
complementing a science kit curriculum called “Catching the Wind” by
Engineering is Elementary that is used in Delaware schools.
One exciting project to emerge from the UD-Gamesa collaboration is the development of the Department of Energy-funded Industry-University Atlantic Wind Consortium aimed at advancing wind turbine technologies and graduate programs in offshore wind power. Led by Willett Kempton,
professor of marine science and policy and research director for UD's
Center for Carbon-free Power Integration, with funding from the
Department of Energy, the project includes academic partners at
University of Maryland and Old Dominion University.
About the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment
UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment
(CEOE) strives to reach a deeper understanding of the planet and
improve stewardship of environmental resources. CEOE faculty and
students examine complex information from multiple disciplines with the
knowledge that science and society are firmly linked and solutions to
environmental challenges can be synonymous with positive economic
The college comprises the School of Marine Science and Policy, Department of Geography and Department of Geological Sciences.
CEOE brings the latest advances in technology to bear on both
teaching and conducting ocean, earth and atmospheric research. Current
focus areas are ecosystem health and society, environmental observing
and forecasting, and renewable energy and sustainability.
Article by Karen B. Roberts