Staff Editorial: Change is in the air

Houston may be best known for oil and energy, but the winds are changing for the city. Thanks in part to UH, we can all breathe a clean sigh of relief.

At the American Wind Energy Association’s annual Wind Conference on June 3 (held in Houston for the first time), plans were approved for a wind turbine testing facility that the University will help create and run in an agreement with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The facility, which will be located in Ingleside, Texas, was proposed in 2007 by the UH-led Lone Star Wind Alliance. The alliance includes a number of universities, wind energy suppliers and government entities.

The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement will set in motion the building of the Texas-NREL Large Blade Research and Test Facility. The proposal for the facility was written by UH Engineering Dean Raymond Flumerfelt and UH professor Su Su Wang, who will serve as one of the project’s lead researchers.

By developing the facility, UH is helping lead the way in important new developments of clean energy, a move any environmentally conscious Cougar can get behind.

The advantages of wind power are fairly obvious. t’s a cleaner fuel source and is powered by a resource that isn’t likely to diminish.

The DOE breaks down areas of the U.S. into classes, ranging from 1 to 7, of wind-energy resource potential. The Texas Gulf Coast has a ranking of 3, with 7 having the most potential. According to the DOE, "power class 3 areas may be suitable for future technology."

While Ingleside, located near Corpus Christi, may not boast a high rank, it does have the promise of potential with "future technology." New technology requires research, and that’s exactly what the testing facility is designed to do.

We’re glad to see UH actively involved in this important endeavor and to see that its smart choices aren’t the only ones being made.

Also announced at the conference were plans for Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s leader in wind energy, to open a research center in Houston – it’s first in the U.S.

By contributing to these two facilities, Houston is making important steps toward becoming a leader in renewable energy. We look forward to seeing what both discover.

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