Program Puts Wind Turbines In Schools

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) wants to get kids fired up about wind power–and, in the process, cut power costs for the nation’s schools. Towards that end, they’ve installed 42 Southwest Windpower SkyStream 3.7  turbines in public schools across the West in conjunction with the Wind for Schools project.

The goal of the project is to install five new turbines each year in the 11 states already part of the program–North Carolina, Virginia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. Eventually, 35 states are expected to participate.

Southwest Wind Power turbine

image via National Renewable Energy Laboratory

These 2.5 turbines (with rotor blades 12 feet in diameter) only produce a third of the amount of electricity needed to power a single-family home–but they are expected to offset $400 worth of electricity a year, covering the contribution schools are expected to kick in for these turbines within a few years, while hopefully inspiring what NREL terms a ”groundswell of informed eagerness for wind energy among young people.”

This eagerness and inspiration is considered crucial, according to researchers, in creating the skilled labor force the wind industry is expected to employ within the next decade. Through Wind for Schools, land-grant university students in each state help to install the turbines in school yards and deliver lessons to younger students; schools receive the benefit of electricity, and teachers incorporate the energy data into their math and science classes. Wind for Schools is a project of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America program.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.