University to sell energy credits from wind turbine
Published: Monday, October 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 28, 2013 22:10
The university will be selling renewable energy credits generated by its wind turbine located in Lewes, Del. to the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation due to a newly established three-year deal.
Renewable energy credits are certificates showing proof one megawatt-hour of energy was generated from a reusable energy source, said Scott Lynch, energy services manager at DEMEC. Solar power, wind power and geothermal energy are eligible for these credits.
The agreement between the university and DEMEC is the first of its kind between the two companies, Lynch said. Profits from the energy credit sales will be used to fund a graduate student fellowship at the university’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.
Lynch said the fellowship was named the UD-DEMEC Graduate Fellowship for Wind Energy Research.
“The bulk of that revenue is dedicated to a graduate fellowship, so we will be able to provide funding for a graduate student who is interested in doing research in the area of wind energy and crafting their academic program around the study of wind energy,” said energy policy professor Jeremy Firestone, director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration.
The deal includes a financial floor ensuring the fellowship will be funded for the full three years, Firestone said. DEMEC has to provide the university with a minimum of $35,000 each year, but he said additional revenue can be generated if DEMEC decides to purchase additional RECs.
“The floor is important so we can ensure that we have the money to pay graduate students,” Firestone said. “It will increase over the life of the agreement because there is an inflation factor built in, and there is a theoretical maximum, but it’ll generate about $35,000 to $45,000 a year.”
Any money not used to fund the fellowship will be put toward providing fringe benefits for graduate students or paying administrative costs within the CEOE, Firestone said.
The turbine was built in 2010 by First State Marine Wind, a joint company between the university-owned company Blue Hen Wind and Gamesa Technology Corporation, Firestone said. GTC specializes in sustainable energy technologies with a focus on wind energy and is currently the market leader in Spain for wind powered energy.
Primarily built to be used as an educational tool, the turbines facilitate research and generate clean energy, Firestone said. Currently, the turbine services the university’s Lewes campus and additional energy is sold to the city of Lewes.
One of the factors that made DEMEC approach the university about this agreement was the turbine’s location, Scott Lynch explained.
“The turbine is in place in one of our municipalities, Lewes and DEMEC has an interest in supporting locally-sited renewable energy systems,” Lynch said. “That is part of our renewable portfolio standard plan which is a plan to procure renewable energy on behalf of the members of the community. And it seemed like a natural fit.”
Lynch said the turbine’s status as the largest land-based turbine in the state, which gave DEMEC added incentive to get involved.
Utility companies are required by state law to either purchase renewable energy credits or use renewable energy. Although there is a requirement, this agreement allows the university to add to the uses of the wind turbine, said Nancy Targett, dean of College of Earth, Ocean and Environment.
“The wind turbine has been part of student research projects, it has been used as examples in classes and for field trips and now UD benefits from the availability of a graduate student fellowship,” Targett said.
This deal has no downside, Targett said.
“This is a win-win agreement. DEMEC gets RECs as part of their energy portfolio and UD gets funds for a graduate student fellowship,” Targett said. “This is another way that the wind turbine will add value to UD by supporting the university’s education mission.”