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NWTC the National Wind Technology Center

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Article: Renewable Energy: The Answer Is Riding On the Wind
by Kate Hamers

Richard Truly, Director, NREL
Admiral Truly, Director at NREL, explaining
one of the displays at the NREL Visitors Center

Admiral Richard Truly, Director NREL
shows Larry Nelson the severed bolt from one of Truly's Challenger mission flights. More about Admiral/Director/Astronaut Truly

We didn't get to meet the director but we wanted you to see the people that make this place work.
Bob Thresher... MORE

Would you like to go to the top?
Stay tuned...
We will tour the National Wind Technology Center

You may be surprised to learn, as we were, that Wind is one of the biggest success stories in the Renewable Energy collection!




Robert J. Noun, Wind Technology Hero National Wind Technology Center Visit National Renewable Energy Laboratory Web SiteToday we're touring the National Wind Technology Center, the world's largest most sophisticated test center for wind. Our host is Robert J. Noun, Director of Communications & Public Affairs for NREL He says, "The wind turbine's basic design is the same design the world has used for thousands of years. We have combined the windmill with the turbine to produce electricity. The design is simple and elegant. The functional elements used are aero, structural and electrical."

Tracking Wind Speed
"Since 1977, when we first began to generate electricity with wind, we have cut the cost from 80 cents to 4 and 5 cents per kilo watt hour. We have a great success story here. We can deliver electricity to remote villages who have never experienced electricity or to rural farms that cannot afford the unthinkable costs associated with connecting to a faraway grid."

Bob arranges for another driver and himself to take our group out to the fields where the giant turbines are perched atop their 80 ft., ultimately 120 ft. towers. Here we meet up with Alan Laxson, Business Outreach, and pile into his vehicle, turbine bound. Oh yes! Some of us will tour to the top. When we arrive, people come out of nowhere and help us into an elevator at the base of the tower and at the end of which is a daunting climb to the top.

We are also met by Andy Meisser and Scott Wilde (say Wildly without the 2nd L) to help us understand what we are seeing. There is nothing impersonal about their work here. Andy and Scott brought these Westinghouse wind turbines and towers all the way from a 1980's Hawaii wind farm for testing here at the National Wind Technology Center. "This site is really hard on the equipment," Andy laments. Sometimes the winds come at speeds high above 100mph. Hawaii was an ideal place for wind farming as gentle trade winds blow across the Pacific at a steady 13 miles per hour.
Destination: Top of this 80ft Windmill.
Mike Hamers of Lightspeed Commercial Arts (right) accompanies Larry Nelson, w3w3 Talk Radio and Alan Laxson, NWTC. The voyage begins with a tiny elevator that runs up the center of the tower. If you are claustrophobia - they'll never get you inside. Ahh, but then, up there you have to maneuver your way up and through some pretty tight spaces - if you have a fear of heights don't even attempt the trip up. And when you finally make it to the top you've got to wonder about people who will do almost anything for a view. Really, I think you have to wonder about people like Scott and Andy above who do this (all the time) for a living. Scott mentioned his three children motivate his efforts to make this world a better place for their future.
Larry FlowersLarry Flowers We finished our tour with Larry Flowers, PE and Team Leader of International Projects. Larry was fun and entertaining as well as informative. We can see why he gets a lot accomplished. Speaking of making the world a better place for our children... Larry's daughter is a glaciologist who is very proud of her father and his accomplishments.

And now we know that Village Power will benefit all of us. As you listen to Larry explain, it becomes very apparent that helping 3rd world countries and people less fortunate than us (some 3 billion of them) we accomplish a lot more for ourselves. Clean air doesn't just exist over our heads and contaminants come from other places that don't have clean fuels. Check with a glaciologist!

Larry Flowers and Robert Noun hold the NWTC Mascot and the battle cry is, "Carpe Ventem" or 'Seize the Wind'

Larry also brought home a poster from Germany, you can see it above, right column - Sun and Wind. Energy straight from the Boss Himself.

Hope you have enjoyed the tour. We have one more tour and lots of celebrating... Happy Birthday NREL!

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