IDAHO: New wind turbine expands partnership with Idaho schools

Idaho National Laboratory’s Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) recently installed another educational wind turbine.  The Skystream 3.7, manufactured by Southwest Windpower, is now running at CAES. The Skystream  joins the existing Blackhawk turbine. The performance of both turbines will be monitored and analyzed by students all over the region as part of Wind Powering America’s (WPA) Wind for Schools (WFS) program.

With the addition of the Skystream, CAES will stream live data and video to classrooms, giving students at all levels easy access to real-time information for both turbines. Students and researchers will be able to use this data for experiments and ongoing classroom activities.  “Having the two turbines side by side creates an opportunity for comparative and inquiry-based learning,” said INL researcher Gary Seifert, who manages WPA’s Idaho region.

WPA is a U.S. Department of Energy program committed to increasing the use of wind energy in the United States. WPA’s Wind for Schools program emphasizes education at all levels, encouraging students to pursue additional college training that will prepare them to enter the wind energy work force. It also aims to engage local citizens in wind energy discussions and to develop a knowledge base for wind energy within schools. The program’s general approach is to develop a learning curriculum by installing small wind turbines in rural elementary and secondary schools while developing a Wind Application Center at higher education institutions.

INL supports the Wind for Schools program as part of its support of educational outreach and active curriculum development that promotes knowledge of renewable energy resources. As the nation’s demand for wind energy grows, INL continues to contribute with resources and education needed to provide a trained energy work force.

Idaho became one of the original six states supporting Wind for Schools projects when Skyline High School in Idaho Falls installed a Skystream turbine in 2007. The other participating Idaho schools are Eagle Rock Junior High School, Jerome Middle School, Shelley High School and the Pocatello Community Charter School.

The data from each school’s Skystream turbine is available on the Internet at Through observation and analysis, students can predict and compare differences in energy production under varying weather conditions.

“What we’re really trying to do is build excitement for science- and technology-based fields,” said Seifert. “And this is the kind of hands-on technology that gets kids excited.”  The turbine was installed as a partnership between INL and its contractor Battelle Energy Alliance, CAES, WPA, WFS, Wheeler Electric Inc. and Idaho Falls Power Company.

INL is one of the DOE’s 10 multiprogram national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

Source:  Idaho National Laboratory


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