Watching NC’s Desert Wind Power Project Unfold

I had the opportunity to meet the Business Development Director for Iberdrola Renewables last week at the 2016 NC Clean Tech Summit and learned that the state’s first wind farm planned for Perquimans and Pasquotank counties is becoming a reality as roads are currently being constructed and, according to a Jan 2016 Facebook post, tower sections are ready and waiting at the Port of Wilmington.  Once construction of the first phase is complete later this year, 104 wind turbines will generate 208 MW of electricity for Amazon Web Services.

According to the Pasquotank Economic Development Commission’s information page about the wind farm, the turbines will be 2.0 MW Gamesa G114 models.  A two page fact sheet (pdf) detailing the features of these turbines is available.  With towers 305ft high and a total height of almost 500ft when a turbine blade is vertical, these turbines are designed to “catch more wind” at low to medium wind speed sites. Learning about these wind turbines reiterates one thing I learned at the NC Clean Tech Summit, that advances in wind turbine technology are making wind farms a viable option for NC as turbines can now produce power from wind speeds that might not have been sufficient in the past.  These advancements include increased efficiency of the gear box/rotor, innovations in blade length and design, and stronger foundations that enable higher turbines.

What a great opportunity to bring a NC issue into your instruction about wind & renewable energy.  I have included some resources below to help you and your students follow along with the development of this particular wind farm and encourage you to have students examine the pros and cons of wind energy as they evaluate this renewable energy source and this wind energy project in particular.  In fact, this wind energy project is ideal for fostering an issue-based discussion since students will be able to conduct research and find both advocates for and opponents of this project.  Check out this blog post for wind-related curricula including activities that have students consider the issues associated with the siting of wind farms.

Iberdrola Renewables is on Facebook and Twitter (@) where you can find occasional posts and photos on the NC project.  Check out this photo of a tower section arriving at the Port of Wilmington (@NCPorts).

North Carolina’s First Wind Farm, Pasquotank Economic Development Commission

The Amazon ‘Desert Wind’ Project: Benefiting Eastern NC and Beyond, NC Sustainable Energy Association

North Carolina Wind Energy Fact Sheet (2014), Southeastern Wind Coalition
 Please share what you are dong to bring this issue into your classroom.
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