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Enlighten Me: UD's wind turbine 5 years later

Delaware Public Media

The wind turbine on University of Delaware’s Lewes campus has now reached its fifth anniversary.


Standing at 256 feet, the wind turbine in Lewes is the only commercial-sized wind turbine in Delaware. Since 2010, it’s generated 23.57 million kilowatt hours of electricity, powering the facilities at University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment campus.


The Lewes Board of Public Works purchased some of the turbine’s surplus electricity, enough to power 108 homes for five years.


“It is the most coastally oriented wind turbine in the United States,” said Jeremy Firestone, the director of the Center for Carbon-Free Integration at University of Delaware.

But the turbine, built by wind power company Gamesa, didn’t just power buildings.

It's also being used to study how a wind farm might get along in the coastal Mid-Atlantic environment.

“Here in Delaware Bay we’re in the middle of an important international flyway,” said Firestone. 


Scientists have used the turbine to test new technologies, study public perception and measure its impact on wildlife. Firestone says research like this paves the way for offshore wind development.

“I think it gives a sense of optimism that we can install turbines offshore and not have substantial negative impacts on bird populations,” said Firestone.

As research showed, there wasn’t a significant impact on bird populations. But scientists instead focused on helping bats -- by installing the Bat Shield, a software program that reduces bat mortality.


In the coming years, Firestone says that the university aims to learn more about wind power generation, wildlife impacts and how the turbine’s seaside location affects its maintenance needs.