UNT turbines producing more energy than estimated

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 Al Key/DRC
The middle wind turbine at the University of North Texas, shown Friday, is not spinning and the manufacturer is sending a crew to fix it. 

After about four months in operation, the University of North Texas’ three wind turbines are producing more energy than the university estimated, although one currently isn’t working.

The wind turbines have been producing energy for the UNT athletic complex, which includes Mean Green Village, Apogee Stadium and Victory Hall residence hall, since they were completed in February.

UNT estimated each of the turbines would generate 150,000 kilowatts of renewable energy a year, which would total 450,000 kilowatts, said Don Lynch, director of system facilities administration and project manager for the wind turbines.

The 100-kilowatt turbines are each 120 feet tall with 30-foot blades, and are being paid for by a $2 million grant from the State Energy Conservation Office.

The university estimated the entire Eagle Point grid uses 7.5 million kilowatts each year, he said, and with the turbines it estimated 6 percent of that would be renewable energy.

In the four months that the turbines have been turning, they have created 8 percent more energy than UNT estimated, Lynch said. But the amount of energy produced depends on wind speed, he said. Just because a turbine is turning doesn’t mean it is generating at full power, he said.

“We’re going to have to see over the long haul,” Lynch said.

Right now the stadium is not really being used but when football season starts, there will be more demand on the grid, he said.

“Spring and fall are the good times for wind,” he said, adding that winds are slower in the summer.

“At this point, it’s doing a little better than what we’ve estimated,” he said.

But during a recent storms, Lynch said, one of the turbines quit working.

The manufacturer, Northern Power Systems, which monitors the turbines continuously, will be sending someone out to investigate why it’s not working, he said.

As part of the project, UNT is building a website that will offer data about the turbines. That data will be available to students and to the public. UNT plans to have that up in a couple weeks, Lynch said.

The website will be used by students for research projects, he said.

“That’s the main reason we are getting the website set up,” he said. “So students will have access to that data.”

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com .

 


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