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Institute for Energy and the Environment researches wind energy technology  


By NMSU Staff
Deming Headlight

LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State University researchers and students are advancing the development of wind energy technology along the U.S.-Mexico border, with the ultimate goal of wind energy commercialization.

NMSU’s Institute for Energy and the Environment (IEE) and College of Engineering have teamed with the Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico and the NMSU Office of International Programs as part of the National Science Foundation Partnerships for Innovation Program. Focal points include development of an inexpensive wind turbine for grid applications, identification of energy site candidates along the border, commercialization of the first border wind farm, and support of wind industry development in the region.

Wind is the world’s fastest-growing energy source, according to the Earth Policy Institute. It has had an average annual growth rate of 29 percent over the past 10 years. In contrast, coal use has grown by 2.5 percent per year, nuclear power by 1.8 percent, natural gas by 2.5 percent, and oil by 1.7 percent.

In the U.S., wind-energy-produced household electricity can now support about 2.3 million homes. The typical U.S. electricity fuel mix to support the same number requires 5 million acres of forest to absorb the resulting 15 million tons of carbon dioxide, the leading gas associated with global warming, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. now has more than 10,000 megawatts of installed wind power capacity and the total is projected to approach or exceed 200 gigawatts by 2030. New Mexico is one of the top 10 states in wind power generation and potential, with more than 400 MW already installed.

NMSU is participating in the Department of Energy Windpowering America Program, which targets regional economic development through wind energy. The NMSU wind team recently helped co-host and instruct at the Wind Energy Applications Training Symposium workshop in Boulder, Colo., at the National Wind Test Center of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“The purpose of the wind energy training is to provide Native Americans, international participants and engineering students with a more in-depth background on wind energy and application tools,” said Robert Foster, program manager for the Southwest Region Experiment Station, an IEE research arm specializing in solar, wind and geothermal energy systems.

“The institute fosters an interdisciplinary research agenda to address environmental sustainability,” said Abbas Ghassemi, IEE executive director. “Our wind energy commercialization project is evolving to support the economy, energy security, and the national vision of 20 percent domestic electricity production from clean, renewable wind energy.”

NMSU engineering students Diego Benavidez and Zach Mills and business students Jacqueline Sanchez and Marcos Muñoz are conducting evaluations and research as part of the NMSU wind program. The business students are assessing the political and economic requirements for developing small (5-10 MW) wind farms on Mexican ejidos (cooperative farms and ranches) that promote local economic development. The project includes assisting the Mexican Environmental Secretariat in establishing guidelines for wind farm implementation and identifying appropriate locations.

The NMSU student team also is assessing the feasibility and economics of establishing a wind farm in southern New Mexico. Promising sites have the potential to become commercial wind farms on the border, creating jobs and opportunities while providing non-polluting power.

The NMSU wind energy program is supported by contracts with the National Science Foundation, the United Nations Development Program, NASA, NREL and the DOE Windpowering America Program.

The IEE comprises WERC: A Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development, the Southwest Technology Development Institute and the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center. For more information contact Ghassemi at (505) 646-2038 or visit www.werc.net/.

Photo is available at


CUTLINE: NMSU engineering students Zach Mills and Diego Benavidez inspect the 32 MW Ponnequin wind farm in northern Colorado.

(Photo by Robert Foster)

Photo is available at


CUTLINE: Robert Foster, program manager with the NMSU Institute for Energy and the Environment; NMSU engineering students Diego Benavidez and Zach Mills; and Alex Hernández, and Jaime Treviño of Tecnológico de Monterrey – Chihuahua examine the rotor and blades for a NEG Micon 750 kW wind turbine. (Photo by Martin Gomez)

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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