U.S. Energy Project to Give National Wind Institute Research Data Access

Memorandum enhances existing partnership between Texas Tech and Pantex Renewable Energy Project.

TTU/Pantex MOU Signing

Chancellor Hance and President Nellis join Steve Erhart, Manager NSSA Production Office (left) for memorandum signing.

Texas Tech University is receiving a boost to its existing research partnership with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)Production Office (NPO) on the Pantex Renewable Energy Project at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo.

“This agreement will give us full access to information from an industrial facility directly using utility scale wind energy in our region,” said John Schroeder, director of the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech University. “The information complements our ongoing research efforts and provides real world examples for developing Texas Tech’s next generation coursework in wind energy.”

The wind farm, known as the Pantex Renewable Energy Project (PREP), is scheduled to begin operation in June 2014.

The NNSA Pantex Plant is the United States’ primary site for assembly, disassembly and maintenance of nuclear weapons. Its function is to meet and support the strategic mission of the Department of Energy (DOE) to enhance nuclear security through defense, nonproliferation and environmental efforts. As part of that effort, the NNSA and DOE are committed to exploring more renewable energy sources.

NNSA recently began construction on what will be the nation’s largest federally owned wind farm utilizing third-party financing. The wind farm currently is under construction on 1,500 acres of land located adjacent to the plant in Carson County, northeast of Amarillo. The area is rated a 4 according to the Wind Power Classification System, which means it is a good source for wind energy creation. The energy created will provide 100,000 renewable energy credits, and directly supply 60 percent of the annual electricity needed to power the adjacent Pantex plant.

Texas Tech Involvement                

“We are excited to expand on this partnership,” said Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis. “It will be a step toward Texas Tech’s mission to develop a university owned and operated world-class wind energy research center, including a utility-scale wind farm near PREP.”

Texas Tech owns 6,000 acres adjacent to the Pantex Plant. It is leased to the DOE/NNSA, serving as a security buffer for the Pantex Plant. It also is in prime position to gather valuable research data from the new PREP wind farm.

TTU/Pantex MOU Signing

Dennis Huddleston, division manager for Babcock and Wilson Technical Services Pantex, LLC elaborates on agreement as Erhart looks on.

The new Memorandum of Understanding, signed May 1, will provide Texas Tech, the National Wind Institute (NWI) and collaborators with NPO’s approval for reasonable access to the following:

  • the wind turbine site for the purpose of monitoring equipment installation,
  • supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) data from wind farm (including, but not limited to, yaw and pitch, data from anemometers and wind vanes, vibration and noise data from turbine mounted sensors),
  • SOnic Detection And Ranging (SODAR), meteorological (MET) tower data and metadata,
  • Maintenance data related to the turbine operations; and
  • power quality and electrical data from equipment.

In turn, Texas Tech/NWI will provide the NPO with reports of its findings.

“We are enthusiastic to team with the NNSA in collaboration on the Pantex Renewable Energy Project,” said Robert V. Duncan, Texas Tech University Vice President for Research. “The data that we obtain and analyze will provide a profound service in the national interest in wind energy, which currently supplies five percent of our national electrical power needs.”

The collaboration also will contribute to long-term renewable energy goals shared with DOE/NNSA to conduct wind research, contribute to workforce development, and develop wind energy technologies to help solve problems in industry.

“Texas Tech’s continued collaboration with Pantex is vital as we advance our research enterprise and further our forward progress as a national research university,” said Chancellor Kent Hance. “Our work with Pantex has been exciting, and we are grateful to strengthen this partnership that is leading to impactful wind research.”

National Wind Institute

National Wind Institute (NWI) is world-renowned for conducting innovative research in the areas of wind energy, wind hazard mitigation, wind-induced damage, severe storms and wind-related economics.

NWI is also home to world-class researchers with expertise in numerous academic fields such as atmospheric science, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, mathematics and economics, and NWI was the first in the nation to offer a doctorate in Wind Science and Engineering, and a Bachelor of Science in Wind Energy.

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