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Alternative Energy Testbed

Research at — and on Top of — CEMS

If you were to fly over Votey Hall, which houses the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), you would see an array of equipment — a wind turbine, solar panels and other instrumentation — and you might ask yourself, what is all that equipment doing on the roof?

Ask Professors Darren Hitt, Wally Varhue and Steve Titcomb: It's the new Alternative Energy Testbed that's been developed as a collaboration between faculty in the Mechanical Engineering (ME) and Electrical Engineering (EE) programs.

left-right: Tim Ziegler, Steve Titcomb and Darren HittWorking along with ME doctoral students Tim Harris and Will Louisos, and Stowe High School teacher Tim Ziegler, Professors Hitt, Varhue and Titcomb have established this experimental site to provide a quantitative demonstration of the pros and cons of two popular alternative energy schemes: wind and solar power.

To accomplish this, power generation data is being monitored and archived for each of these schemes over the period of a year or more, thereby capturing seasonal power variations as well as day-to-day fluctuations. The goal is to illustrate the advantages and limitations of different energy strategies in a quantitative way and share this information with the campus community and others.

The idea for the project came from Dr. Hitt, ME Associate Professor, who was motivated by the lack of quantification present in many public discussions of the alternative energy issue. The project has been funded jointly by the UVM Environmental Council and the Hughes Endeavor for Life Science Excellence (HELiX) Summer of Science Program.

To learn more about this effort, go to Comparative Alternative Energy Generation Testbed. Students interested in becoming involved can contact Professor Darren Hitt directly.