Wind for Schools

Since my friend Hugh Curtler has been speaking poetically about Don Quixote’s author Miguel Cervantes this week (see www.hughcurtler.wordpress.com), it dovetails nicely with some research I have been doing on the burgeoning wind energy industry in this country. Since I shared with Hugh that I have been known to chase a windmill or two being accused of channeling my inner Don Quixote, I thought it was timely to share an initiative I uncovered about “Wind for Schools.” For more on the subject of wind energy, please check out an earlier blog called “Blowing in the Wind” I wrote on January 25 of this year.

Wind for Schools is an initiative I learned about from Appalachian State University, a state school located in Boone, North Carolina. They participate in an initiative that is now in 11 states including North Carolina – Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Virginia –  which impacts 120 schools. In short, the initiative places wind turbines on school campuses to provide electricity for the schools, as well as teach the children more about alternative energy, in particular, wind energy. The initiative is sponsored by the Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

In NC, the Appalachian State led initiative installed four wind turbines in the mountains at Alleghany High, Avery High, Watauga High and North Wilkes Middle Schools in 2011. On the Coast of NC, they installed five wind turbines at JP Knapp, Cape Hatteras Secondary and First Flight Schools as well as College of the Albemarle – Dare and College of the Albemarle – Edenton. Looking at a NC wind turbine map, these nine installations add to an ever-growing number of wind turbines around the state. Like solar energy, the wind turbines, need not be huge developments, although that is more efficacious. They can be small 1 to 3 kiloWatt electricity producers that can power a building or enterprise, such as an auto repair, dry dock storage, consulting, and eco-energy businesses, e.g.

And, they create jobs, not just directly in the wind turbine construction, power creation and maintenance, but in jobs to truck and install the component parts. Looking on the web, you can find large-scale companies and small-scale companies geared up around an aspect of the wind development process. In Raleigh, Underwriter Laboratories advertises a need for Wind Turbine Certification Services jobs, e.g. I noted in my earlier post that there are 75,000 US  jobs today associated around the wind energy industry and, if we continue to invest in the industry there could be 500,000 by 2030. These jobs pay well and tend to be done by local residents trained to do the tasks.

Finally, people support the movement to wind, solar and alternatives forms of energy. Truth be told, part of the huge group of naysayers are the fossil fuel based energy companies who want to promote current forms of energy exploration by downplaying how far these cleaner industries have come. The fossil fuel industry is so effective at it, many still believe these alternative energy industries are fledgling. While some cleaner industries still need some financial support, they continue to get more scalable as long term energy solutions on an annual, and even monthly, basis.

Per a survey in 2010 by Public Policy Polling (information@publicpolicypolling.com) of western North Carolina residents (where our mountains exist), 85% of the residents want more investment in wind energy, 82% want more solar energy, and 50% want more hydro-electric energy. Only 38% want more natural gas-powered energy and only 34% want more nuclear energy. Going further, 60% want less coal and 35% want less nuclear powered energy.

I have written several posts about solar energy heating up, pun intended. These projects can be big or small and are making a difference with California leading the way with over 1 gigaWatt of solar energy. If California were a country, it would be in the top ten in solar energy production in the world. In NC, our state is the 5th most prolific solar energy powered state and will soon move up to 4th. Wind energy need not be any different. Where the wind blows in abundance, these elegant wind turbines can power a great deal. And, when I see a number of wind turbines like you see in western New York state just off the interstate near Corning, I take pride that we are making the right steps. When I see fracking sites or oil derricks, I see just the opposite – environment degradation. Per the above survey, the western NC residents, agree with 83% having a positive image of the wind turbines in the mountains.

In my view, this is the future state. Solar and wind energy are key energy solutions. As for wind, we need to embrace it, fund it until it is not needed to make it scalable and let it truly take flight, again pun intended.  Teaching kids about wind energy with active projects is a wonderful investment and is laudable. More power to those who created this teaching/ investment model and folks like Appalachian State University for helping execute it. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

14 thoughts on “Wind for Schools

  1. Locally, many of the schools in the area are building or have completed solar panel installations, and Fresno State College has put in an extensive system covering several parking lots. Cars benefit from being parked in the shade, the school benefits from the power generation. What’s not to like?

  2. Great blog and exciting news (thanks for the shout, by the way). Sierra magazine ranks the top green colleges and universities every year and it is most encouraging to see what more and more of those schools are doing. Just imagine how the clean energy industry would take off is the Feds got behind it 100%!

    • I agree. On the smaller end, we have the Elf solar powered car-bike. But, they now have a solar powered ariplane, so there is hope. Tha airplane wings are made with photovoltaic panels. Thanks for writing, BTG

  3. such an important topic! thank you for continuing to write about it. I’m not sure, but I think Minnesota is up there in the top 10 along with NC and CA for solar energy yes? or maybe it’s wind energy, not sure.

    say, one suggestion for this post. you could include a link to your 1/25 post similar to how you linked Hugh’s site. just to make it easier for readers to find it, yes?

    another interesting post, thank you!!

    • just did a quick google. looks like MN is 15th for solar energy and 7th for wind energy. not too bad, but we could do better I spose(that’s Minnesotan for I suppose, heh)

      • Toby, many thanks for the comments and advice. I will try that next time. Minnesota is definitely in the top ten for wind. I think it is high up in solar as well. Take care, BTG

      • Great. That jives with my answer below, so the memory still has something left, although it is sometimes harder to pull old names.

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