Wind Energy Academy participants agree to promote education about technology
Representatives of research institutions, universities and industry agreed to collaborate and share their knowledge, skills and capabilities to promote education in wind energy technologies during the inaugural meeting of the North American Wind Energy Academy held on campus Aug. 7-9.
Ninety-two participants from 17 states and Canadian provinces attended the meeting, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through a subcontract as part of the Workforce Development task, and through a previous grant to investigate the academy concept.
Jose Zayas, program manager of the DOE Wind and Water Power Program, spoke about DOE’s vision and challenged the group with the aggressive plan to significantly reduce the cost of energy from full wind energy plants and remove the barriers to development. Other speakers included Mark O’Malley, professor of electrical engineering at the University College Dublin, Michael Goggin, manager of transmission policy at the American Wind Energy Association, and Roger Schonewald from General Electric - Energy.
Professor James Manwell, director of the UMass Wind Energy Center, described the formation of the academy. Dana Christiansen, deputy laboratory director for science and technology at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), encouraged participants to endorse the draft charter and to support the development of the academy. “For wind to grow we need an ecosystem to support growth that is multidisciplinary. Energy runs the economy and wind energy must provide security, reliability, and affordability,” said Christiansen.
The academy’s vision is that wind power can achieve at least a tenfold greater contribution to the electricity needs of the continent. Challenges to this growth can be overcome by substantially reducing cost while exceeding current levels of service and performance. It is the mission of NAWEA to facilitate the formation of high-quality, national scientific research collaborations to address high-risk, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research problems that present barriers to the wide-spread use and high penetration of wind energy in North America. The academy will enhance opportunities for education and training of the needed skilled human resources at all levels, but with special focus on graduate-level research.
The first day of the meeting included a full-day workshop on how to use the wind turbine computer-aided engineering tool, Fatigue, Aerodynamics, Structures, and Turbulence (FAST), developed by NREL, to predict the loads on operating machines. Fifty-six students and researchers attended the FAST workshop. On the second day, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) presented a half-day primer on the application of atmospheric sciences to wind energy issues. The primer included a talk by Chris Clack of the University of Colorado at NOAA on how the weather-driven energy source matches electrical demand across the entire continent, while Jim Wilczak of NOAA and Sue Haupt of NCAR teamed up to provide the attendees with insight into the current state of the art in atmospheric boundary layer research and weather systems, and showed how this work is relevant to the design, operation and performance of wind energy systems.
On the final morning of the meeting, graduate student attendees gave presentations and held a networking session. This session allowed them to present their research to each other and discuss their results with peers. In the final session of the meeting, an interim board was formed from the signatories to the draft academy charter. Robert Thresher, NREL research fellow, was selected as the inaugural academy director, or “launch director,” to lead the establishment of the academy as a working institution in North America. The final session also gathered ideas on initial activities for the academy in both educational and research directions.