University of Vermont

University Communications

New UVM Wind Turbine to Serve Educational, Research Purposes

Release Date: 10-07-2005

Author: Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Phone: 802/656-2005 Fax: (802) 656-3203

The University of Vermont has installed a small-scale, 10 kilowatt wind turbine on its campus near the corner of Main Street and East Avenue to serve a variety of educational purposes both on and off campus.

The turbine is expected to generate 3,000-5,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, enough to power an energy-efficient home for 12 months. The project is part of the Vermont Department of Public Service (DPS) Wind Development Program, which supports the installation of small-scale turbines to demonstrate the benefits of wind energy.

Funding for the wind turbine was provided by a $30,000 matching grant from the DPS. The funds are a portion of $1.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy funds secured by Senator James Jeffords for wind projects.

“This wind turbine represents UVM’s forward thinking on matters related to energy and the environment,” said Senator Jeffords, I-Vt., who has been a strong proponent of wind energy throughout his 30 years in Congress. “Faced with record-setting gas prices, we must explore all alternatives to fossil fuel. This project will help in that effort, and I am proud of UVM’s educational leadership on this front.”

Governor Douglas said he supports the university’s decision to locate a small wind turbine on its campus. “This small scale wind generation equipment will provide a long term learning opportunity, and the results will help local wind generation manufacturers generate valuable research data,” the Governor said. “I would like to thank Senator Jeffords for his commitment to the advancement of Vermont-scale renewable energy.”

“We’re grateful to Senator Jeffords for his hard work and foresight in helping us add this important educational tool to our curriculum,” said University of Vermont president Daniel Mark Fogel. “As one of the leading environmental universities in the country, it’s important that we both model sustainable practices and provide real world methods for our students and others to study and understand renewable energy technologies.”

An important educational tool

While the wind turbine will play a modest role in helping the university reduce its greenhouse gas emissions—cutting its CO2 output by 3,500 to 5,900 pounds per year—its major purpose is educational. The turbine features a data logger enclosed at the base of the tower, which will collect and electronically transmit real-time information—including wind speed, wind direction and kilowatts produced—to a Web site and nearby kiosk.

Data collection and display are at the heart of the wind turbine’s educational utility, said Charles Ferreira, a faculty member in the department of Community Development and Applied Economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who was responsible for overseeing the educational components of the installation.

“There are many classroom applications,” he said. “For instance, students will be able to project the amount of energy the wind turbine should be producing versus what it’s actually creating,” he said, “and then theorize about discrepancies.” By analyzing weather data and energy production over time, students will also be able to better understand what conditions are optimal for wind energy production, he said.

The wind turbine will be incorporated into three UVM courses being taught this fall, Ferreira said, two in the department of Community Development and Applied Economics and one in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Because the data is accessible on the Web, it could be used in classrooms anywhere in the world.

The wind turbine will be “net-metered,” meaning that the power it creates will be incorporated back into the power grid through the Burlington Electric Department. UVM will receive a credit for this generated power.

UVM a national leader, according to peers

The wind turbine joins several other green demonstration projects on the UVM campus, including a solar panel display and educational kiosk between the campus bookstore and Bailey Howe Library that also posts real time data to a Web site. The university also maintains a fleet of biodiesel buses and electric vehicles and has successful recycling, composting, energy management and stormwater management systems in place.

These demonstration projects and environmental programs are gaining notice in the higher education community. In a recent survey of peer institutions conducted by Cornell University, the University of Vermont was cited as one of five universities in the country that have emerged as leaders in campus sustainability programs. UVM ranked second, behind Harvard, in the number of times it was cited by survey respondents under the category “leaders in the environmental field.”

The Vermont Department of Public Service has administered federal funds for several other wind energy projects in the state, including Addison Central School, Alburg Welcome Center, Danville School, Dover Elementary School, LaPotin farm in Concord, Middlebury College, Mount Holly Elementary School and Vermont Technical College in Randolph.

Vermont Green Energy Systems of East Middlebury, Vt. is installing the wind turbine. The turbine is a Bergey Excel-S with a GridTek10 inverter.

UVM held a signing ceremony for its new green building policy, which officially went into effect over the summer, on September 1. The policy ensures that UVM’s building practices are environmentally sound and sustainable.