The University of Houston will have a key leadership role as general manager of the Lone Star Wind Alliance — a public/private partnership of universities, government agencies and corporate partners formed to support the economic development of renewable wind energy throughout Texas and the nation.
“Houston is the energy capital of the world, and that can’t just refer to fossil fuels. It has to refer to the way energy goes in the future,” Donald Birx, University of Houston vice president for research, said. “In the next 10 to 15 years, wind power and solar power are the primary sources that can come online and aid our crisis in energy.”
Through an agreement with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, UH and the Lone Star Alliance will design, construct and operate a wind turbine blade testing facility on a 22-acre tract of waterway property at Ingleside-on-the-Bay (just north of Corpus Christi) donated by BP Alternative Energy.
Blades about the length of a football field will be tested to ensure that each meets design standards and can withstand the stress of wind power generation. These blades then will be shipped to wind farms around the country, the largest of which are in west Texas.
“UH is working for the future, and this is a place where we can play a really key role,” said Birx.
In addition to UH, the alliance includes The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, West Texas A&M University, Rice University, Lamar University, New Mexico State University, Old Dominion University, the Houston Advanced Research Center, the Texas General Land Office, the State Energy Conservation Office, the Texas Workforce Commission as well as 12 wind energy companies and suppliers, including Houston-based BP Alternative Energy, Shell WindEnergy, Dow Chemical and Huntsman International.