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Nov. 3, 2003


Rensselaer Taps Into the Power of the Wind

Rensselaer has begun tapping into the power of the wind to generate electricity, with a newly installed wind turbine off of Sunset Terrace on the east side of campus.

“We will no longer have to rely on pictures. We now have another example of a renewable energy source on campus that students can use to understand the benefits of these technologies.
—David Borton—
The new wind turbine is the product of a student research project that began two years ago when Jim Adams started collecting wind data from the eastern portion of the campus for his senior thesis. Adams graduated in 2002 and now works for AWS Scientific, an Albany, New York, based energy consulting firm. He returned to campus this year, working in conjunction Rensselaer, to secure a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grant to install the wind turbine.

Power from the 10-kilowatt, three-blade wind turbine will be transmitted to the campus power grid, according to Oliver Holmes, director of campus planning and facilities design. The project is funded by Rensselaer and NYSERDA.

“The electric power generated and the utility costs saved are important, but there is also value in the research and education opportunities for students, faculty and the community,” Holmes said. “The wind turbine is yet another step in Rensselaer’s overall energy management plan to reduce costs and provide the appropriate mix of energy sources.”

The wind turbine is attached to an 80-foot, “tilt down” tower that can be lowered for access by faculty and students to investigate the inner workings of the turbine, Holmes said.

David Borton, adjunct associate professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, plans to use the new wind turbine as part of his engineering course on solar devices and energy. “We will no longer have to rely on pictures,” Borton said. “We now have another example of a renewable energy source on campus that students can use to understand the benefits of these technologies.” He also uses the photovoltaic tracker adjacent to the Voorhees Computing Center in his class.

A Web site for students and others to track the energy production of the new wind turbine is being developed by Shawn Shaw, conservation coordinator at Rensselaer.

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