Windmills rise at Dare County school campuses

By on November 20, 2011

Turbine goes up at First Flight Middle. (Sharon Sullivan photos)

By Sharon Sullivan
Dare County Schools

After almost a year of planning, a 67-foot Skystream wind turbine was installed on the First Flight Schools campus earlier this month.

A second was scheduled to go up several days later at the Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coast Studies. A third, a Windspire, will be erected at future date at the Cape Hatteras school.

As the schools’ facilities director and a member of the Albemarle Resource Conservation and Development Council, Jim Winebarger, has played a multi-hat role in coordinating the effort.

“To have these wind turbines as an on-campus resource for our students is exciting on several levels,” he said. “Industry is just beginning to consider the full potential of wind and other technologies; the likelihood that many of our students will build careers around what is now considered alternative energy is strong.

“This project has been supported from the beginning by the Board of Education and we have received a tremendous amount of support from all of the municipalities involved in the process.”

Winebarger pointed out that “these turbines will actually generate only minimal power. They are being installed as a tool for education and research.”

The data generated by the turbines can be accessed by schools across several disciplines for relevant and challenging teaching and learning, by private and public agencies, as well as by the general public.

The project was made possible by the Albemarle Resource Conservation and Development Council, which is responsible for the Renewable Energy Economic Solutions program in northeastern North Carolina.

Funding was provided by the North Carolina Rural Development Center. Additional supporters include the Northeastern Workforce Development Board, North Carolina Solar Center, College of the Albemarle, UNC’s Coastal Studies Institute, Elizabeth City State University’s Center for Green Research and Evaluation and the federal Wind for Schools project.

“RC&D members have worked hard to make the project a reality for students and teachers at school locations in the northeast region,” Winebarger said. “You can expect to see more systems installed at schools in northeastern North Carolina in the near future.”

He said the council is in the process of installing a wind turbine and meteorological tower at College of The Albemarle’s Edenton campus and hopes to put up a meteorological tower at ECSU, as well.

A meteorological tower is also planned for the First Flight campus. When the project is complete, school sites in the area will be interconnected via the Internet so that data can be shared in support of the North Carolina Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative.

“This is a great first step in the real world education and data acquisition our students need to understand these emerging technologies,” Adam Herman, First Flight High School Social Studies department chair and sponsor of the school’s Environmental Club. “I am confident that the knowledge we gain will be valuable in determining the realistic possibilities for generating the power we use every day.”


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