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Wind Energy Research Institutes Join Forces at the Inaugural Meeting of the North American Wind Energy Academy

September 25, 2012

The North American Wind Energy Academy (NAWEA) held its inaugural meeting August 7-9, 2012, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the meeting drew 92 participants from 17 states and Canada, including 22 universities, eight commercial companies, and four government laboratories.

Robert Thresher, senior fellow at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), was selected as the inaugural director to lead the establishment of NAWEA as a working institution in North America.

Photo of the attendees at the North American Wind Academy meeting. Enlarge image

NAWEA members are a diverse blend of academic, laboratory, and industry leaders working toward a common goal. Several of the signatories of the agreement (pictured here) gathered after the signing ceremony to support the development of the academy.

The newly formed NAWEA connects research institutions, universities, and industry professionals with the combined vision that wind power can achieve a greater contribution to the electricity needs of the continent. To achieve this vision, it is necessary to dramatically reduce cost while exceeding current levels of service and performance. NAWEA's mission is to facilitate the formation of high-quality, national scientific research collaborations to address high-risk, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional research challenges that present barriers to the wide-spread use and high penetration of wind energy in North America.

In addition, NAWEA will enhance opportunities for the education and training of the needed skilled workforce at all levels, but with a special focus on graduate-level research. NAWEA members agreed to collaborate and share their knowledge, skills, and capabilities to promote education in wind energy technologies.

NAWEA meeting highlights include the following:

  • Jose Zayas, program manager of the DOE Wind and Water Power Program, spoke about the program's vision and challenged the group with an aggressive plan to significantly reduce the cost of wind energy and remove development barriers.
  • Dana Christiansen, deputy laboratory director for science and technology at NREL, led the signing of the NAWEA charter by saying, "Energy runs the economy and wind energy must provide security, reliability, and affordability."
  • A variety of industry experts and leaders spoke on a wide range of topics, including Mark O'Malley, professor of electrical engineering at the University College Dublin; Michael Goggin, manager of transmission policy at the American Wind Energy Association; and Roger Schonewald from General Electric — Energy.
  • Jason Jonkman, senior engineer at NREL's National Wind Technology Center, taught a full-day workshop on how to use FAST, NREL’s wind turbine computer-aided engineering tool, to predict the loads on operating machines. Fifty-six students and researchers attended the workshop.
  • Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration presented a half-day primer on the application of atmospheric sciences to wind energy issues and provided a look at how the weather-driven energy source matches electrical demand across the entire continent.
  • An interim board was established comprised of the signatories to the draft NAWEA charter.
  • A working session was conducted to gather ideas on initial activities for NAWEA in both educational and research directions and participants volunteered to lead and promote each activity.

Visit NAWEA's website for more information.