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Environment / Sustainability

Training clean energy workforce through state's wind anemometer loan program

June 15, 2009

Students at Colorado State University are building the New Energy Economy one wind turbine at a time. Students are not only learning in the classroom, they're getting hands-on training on how to install wind turbines for rural Colorado, benefitting state residents who want to measure wind velocity in their communities.

Targets rural property owners

Since September 2007, Colorado State has managed the Colorado Anemometer Loan Program through a contract with the Governor's Energy Office. The program, which the state renewed in December, targets rural property owners interested in using wind energy to help power their farms, ranches and homes, potentially providing them a new source of long-term revenue.

Starting this summer, at the request of Colorado residents, Colorado State research scientists and students will install anemometers in Eagle, Grand, Las Animas, Mesa, Park and Yuma counties among other places.

As of early June, CSU had towers at 15 sites across Colorado, largely with equipment provided by the Governor's Energy Office.

Educating clean energy workforce

"This effort advances our New Energy Economy on two fronts: It educates the coming generation of the clean energy workforce and it spreads the promise of renewable energy to more Colorado communities," said GEO director Tom Plant. "We're proud to be partnering with the outstanding students and educators at Colorado State University on this important project."

A limited number of 68 foot and 98 foot towers are available for loan with sensors to measure wind speed and direction. Students and staff from Colorado State University's mechanical engineering department assess whether a resident's property warrants a tower. Students help install the tower and analyze the data that is recorded from the towers every 10 minutes for a year.

"My focus is to promote small wind projects at the rancher or farmer level or community wind projects - people who want the anemometer loan program to be a first step to a wind project," said Michael Kostrzewa, senior research associate in the Colorado State mechanical engineering department who manages the Anemometer Loan Program.

"Our job is to make sure we manage the program efficiently and the towers are being installed and the data collected," Kostrzewa said.

Eleven towers are free for loan

Only 11 towers are available for loan to residents - three 98-foot towers and eight 68-foot towers. The towers are free for loan, and funding from the Governor's Energy Office supports students who are getting an introduction to wind energy in the field.

Towers have been installed all over the state, but largely in eastern and northern Colorado. Towers have been installed in more than 60 locations around the state since the program started in 2003.

In many locations in Colorado, residents who live in windy areas may not know whether they have enough wind to warrant turbines. Wind energy isn't for everyone - particularly areas where the wind isn't strong enough to make a difference, Kostrzewa said.

"In engineering, sometimes 'no' is an appropriate answer too," he said.

Waiting list

The program has a waiting list, but Kostrzewa prioritizes the requests based on the likelihood that residents will pursue permanent wind turbines on their land or small-scale wind farms. The program will collect applications for 2010 installation until Jan. 31, 2010.


Contact: Emily Wilmsen
E-mail: Emily.Wilmsen@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-2336