Around six people first met for dinner at Barley's Taproom in the Old City of Knoxville. Then around twelve people met at the Biosystems Engineering and Environmental Sciences Building on the UT Ag campus to hear a presentation by Dale Kaiser (researcher from Oak Ridge National Laboratory) on the current state of wind energy development. The title of the talk was "Wind Energy: By Far the Fastest-Growing Form of Renewable Energy". Dale was assisted by two of his student interns - Lyndy Wibking and Sara McNamee. The material for their talk was collected from their experience in a project they've been working on the last 1-2 years at ORNL: the Wind ENergy Data and Information (WENDI) Gateway. Some of the topics they covered included:
- Why develop wind energy (for the production of electricity)?
- The basics of wind energy development, including where the best wind is (and therefore where the wind plants are being built)
- Environmental issues surrounding wind energy (e.g., "Don't those wind turbines kill birds?")
- Basic economics of developing large-scale (commercial/utility-scale) wind energy and the cost of the electricity it can produce
- Consumer (small-scale) wind energy
- How the Department of Energy has helped drive wind energy development (it really got going during the Bush years)
- The state of U.S. and Global wind power development (Is China eating our lunch in this field too?)
- Valuable and interesting information resources for learning more about wind energy
- Some late-breaking wind energy news: an interesting late-breaking wind energy story included controversy in the Pacific Northwest in mid-May 2011 surrounding the Bonneville Power Administration telling wind power plants in the region to stand down temporarily as the transmission grid could not handle power generation generation from all sources in the region. This was primarily due to a very wet spring in the region causing the hydro dams to generate at maximum, with limited capacity to store water upstream from the dams. Wind plant interests were considering legal action against BPA, as fossil fuel and nuclear plants were not asked to stand down. If the wind is blowing but the wind plants are not producing, they stand to lose money by not being able to claim federal "production tax credits" during that time.
- How much electricity is being produced now and how much is envisioned for the future?
The following are biographies of the speakers:
Dale Kaiser is a research staff member in the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) at ORNL. Since 1990, most of his work has involved compilation, quality assurance, documentation, and analysis of climate datasets. This work has primarily involved U.S., Russian, and Chinese surface, instrumental climate data and has resulted in a series of papers over the years related to changes in cloudiness and related climate variables over China. Dale’s other work at ORNL includes managing the development of the Wind ENergy Data and Information (WENDI) Gateway in support of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Office and supporting DOE’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Archive by developing and managing metadata for the many data streams generated by ARM sites around the world.
Lyndy Wibking graduated from UT Knoxville with a Bachelor's degree in English Rhetoric & Writing in May 2010. Currently, she is pursuing a Master's degree at UTK's School of Information Sciences. Her interest in information science began when she worked as a student library assistant at UTK's Digital Library Initiatives, and her focus in the SIS program continues to be on digital libraries and archives. As a graduate research assistant at ORNL, she contributes to the development of the Wind ENergy Data and Information (WENDI) Gateway - a virtual repository of wind energy data and information - through the creation of metadata and GIS shapefiles, as well as various outreach activities.
Sara McNamee graduated from the University of Florida in 2008 with a Bachelor's degree in Geology. In May 2011 she earned her Master's degree in Information Sciences from UTK. In the spring of 2011 she completed a practicum at ORNL working on the WENDI Gateway project.
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