University of Delaware and Gamesa commission coastal wind turbine

Several dignitaries joined in the celebration, including Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Collin O’Mara, City of Lewes Mayor James Ford, and Deputy Director Michael Robinson of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Wind Technology Center.

The wind power project is part of a joint venture, First State Marine Wind, between UD-owned Blue Hen Wind and Gamesa Technology Corporation. The City of Lewes and Sustainable Energy Developments Inc. (SED) are also key partners.

UD President Patrick Harker, one of the speakers at the ceremony, said, “We couldn’t be happier to partner with Gamesa on wind energy research and technology. Together, we can make Delaware a U.S. leader in wind power science, production, and policy.”

The land-based campus turbine stands 400 feet high from its tower base to the apex of its blade at peak rotation. Each of the wind turbine’s three blades is 144 feet long.

“Gamesa has invested more than $220 million on U.S. manufacturing and wind energy development. As an industry leader, we are always looking for new opportunities, like our partnership with the University of Delaware, to move America toward a more sustainable, domestic clean energy future,” Gamesa North America CEO Dirk Matthys said. “This wind turbine not only serves to remind us all of the very real benefits of the zero-emission electricity that wind generates, but also stands as a beacon for the next generation of local clean energy development.”

A typical 2-megawatt wind turbine provides enough emissions-free electricity to power about 500 average homes, so the single turbine is expected to provide clean, carbon-free electricity for the entire campus, which is part of UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE).

At times, the wind turbine will generate more than enough power for the campus; the excess will be fed to the electric grid. The university will provide any excess power at the same cost the Lewes Board of Public Works pays wholesale, so there will be no additional charge to Lewes customers for getting a portion of their power from a local, clean resource.

Carbon-free electricity is not the only benefit of the turbine, however.

“This project will enhance research in areas such as turbine corrosion, avian impacts, and policy issues related to renewable energy,” said Nancy Targett, CEOE dean.

DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara noted the economic benefits of wind energy. “Transitioning to a clean energy economy has the potential to improve our environment and create thousands of jobs,” he said. “The UD-Gamesa partnership will demonstrate significant economic and environmental benefits for this transition and serves as a model for future off-shore development.”

In addition to their remarks, dignitaries flipped a large switch to symbolize the connection of the turbine to the electrical grid. They also signed two large photos depicting different stages of the turbine’s construction. One of the photos was given to Gamesa representatives and the other will be put on display at UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus.

“What a wonderful day here in the First Town in the First State,” said Senator Carper. “Just a year ago I was on campus learning about the potential construction of this wind turbine. I’m excited to be standing here as we commission this wind turbine and watch it work. Delaware is once again leading the way in harnessing and producing clean, renewable energy. I am proud of the University of Delaware and its wonderful team for bringing us one step closer to energy independence.”

To commemorate the day, all 250 ceremony attendees, many of whom live and work in Lewes, received wind turbine lapel pins.

“Our city has a wonderful partnership with the University of Delaware and Gamesa,” said Mayor Ford. “We take pride in looking at our heritage and our history, but we also take additional pride in moving forward, being environmentally conscious and aware, and addressing the needs of the future of our city, our state, and our nation.”

Targett and CEOE professors Jeremy Firestone and Willett Kempton conceived the project. Firestone and Kempton have studied many aspects of wind energy, including the amount of power supplied by Delaware’s offshore winds as well as public reaction to and policies for wind-energy use.

Gamesa specializes in sustainable energy technologies, mainly wind power. Gamesa is the wind turbines market leader in Spain and is positioned among the most important wind generator manufacturers in the world.

With an international workforce of some 6,300 employees, including 850 in the United States, Gamesa has installed over 16,000 megawatts of its main product lines in 20 countries over four continents. Gamesa has built or sold nearly 2,000 megawatts in wind turbines in the United States since 2003.

Total production amounts to more than 5.45 million tons of petroleum equivalent per year and prevents the emission into the atmosphere of more than 34 million tons of carbon dioxide a year, helping to reduce the harmful effects of global warming.

Headquartered in Spain, Gamesa is publicly traded on the Spanish stock exchange and included among others in the Dow Jones and FTSE4GOOD sustainability indexes. Gamesa has production centers in Europe, China, and the United States.