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Maryland Partners to Build a Demonstration Scale Solar-Wind Project

Maryland Partners to Build a Demonstration Scale Solar-Wind Project

Date: 12/28/2006

Location: Frostburg, MD

Contact: Crissy Godfrey

Phone: 410-260-7190

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Small Wind Energy Newsletter, April 2007.

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has partnered with Frostburg State University to construct an approximately 4-kW hybrid solar-wind project on its campus. At least one wind turbine and ten photovoltaic panels of 2-kW total rated capacity will be installed, generating electricity to power a small building. The turbine for this project has not yet been selected and the project is expected to be completed in the spring. Strong, relatively steady winds prevail in the Western Maryland region, especially in higher elevations and the Appalachian Front, making this area ideal for harnessing winds to generate electricity for homes and businesses.

Residential small wind and solar systems can be installed en masse throughout Maryland, making a strong contribution in reducing our energy demand on aging primarily fossil-fuel based power plants while also improving air quality. The demonstration project will provide a venue for western Marylanders to see small wind firsthand while also obtaining vital information on technical, social, environmental, economic, and administrative elements of investing in such a project in this area.

Through this concerted effort, MEA hopes to overcome barriers to and increase awareness of wind and solar energy, bolster support for other related development activities, and stimulate interest in the implementation of other small wind projects. Activities, targeted towards but not limited to agricultural businesses and rural landowners include case studies, a renewable energy symposium this spring, and the purchase of renewable energy equivalent to the life of the project.

The case studies will document the construction and performance processes of the project. The first case study will detail each step throughout the construction process, including preliminary design, equipment procurement, navigating zoning ordinances and local regulatory issues (both at a university level as well as the local government), public comment and cooperation, utility cooperation, and available financing opportunities (e.g, net-metering). The second case study will monitor the performance of the hybrid system through data collected throughout its first operational year, including annual kWh generated, wind speeds, wildlife and environmental impacts and continued public perception. These case studies will gather an abundance of knowledge on the feasibility and cost effectiveness of residential hybrid systems in Maryland, for which no working example currently exists. Secondly, this information will help educate interested stakeholders in steering through the process of developing their own systems.

The University will also organize a renewable energy symposium in the spring to showcase renewable energy technologies, offer the opportunity for related businesses to exhibit their products and services, and provide a forum for the discussion of barriers in introducing wind energy as a mainstream energy resource to Maryland. The project is due to be operational by mid-spring. Its unveiling is planned to kick-off at the symposium.

According to a campus-wide survey conducted through Dr. Oguz Soysal, Chair of the Physics and Engineering Department at Frostburg and Director of this project, students and faculty have embraced the project wholeheartedly, with 98% of faculty and 67% of students polled in favor of constructing a demonstration scale system on campus. The University's Faculty Senate also recently unanimously approved the project. Dr. Jonathan Gibraltar, President of Frostburg State University echoed this sentiment, in stating that, "We must no longer exclusively rely upon fossil fuel, and research is critical to better understand the potential of residential wind turbines."

The University also plans to develop interdisciplinary curriculum for existing and new courses as well as leverage the project to develop expertise that will assist the local community in developing their own generation systems. Dr. Soysal believes that "this project will enable the University's Physics and Engineering Department to develop hands-on experience in building a residential hybrid generation system while providing non-biased information to the community."

Additionally, as a part of the project, the University will also help administer the Maryland Energy Administration's State Anemometer Loan Program, which launched in August of this year, to loan anemometers to residents interested in residential wind power. It is hoped that increased awareness and interest in these technologies, through project efforts, may hopefully draw new businesses and economic development vital to the community.

For more information regarding this project or the Maryland Energy Administration's wind energy program, contact Crissy Godfrey.

This information was last updated on December 05, 2013