Special to QCS
Representatives from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech) recently visited the North American Wind Research and Training Center at Mesalands Community College, to develop their graduate research projects in wind energy.
Kevin Wedeward, professor and chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at New Mexico Tech, and student David Breen used data collected from the 1.5-megawatt wind turbine at Mesalands to study the impact wind farms have on the behavior and stability on the electrical grid.
“The ultimate goal of our research is to see is if there is a level at which, when you get a lot of wind turbines on the grid with their fluctuating output as it varies with wind, the grid starts to behave in a less than desirable way? Or is there a chance at some point the behavior of stability of the grid will be compromised or at least lessen in reliable power?” Wedeward said. “We can’t really say with any confidence that the results we are going to get are correct, unless you get the kind of data we are collecting here at Mesalands. This data will be instrumental in the future of our research.”
Wedeward said he has been working on this research project for about four years. He said other organizations have been reluctant to release this type of data because of legal reasons, or because the data is proprietary.
Wedeward said the turbine operational data they collected from Mesalands will allow them to determine whether their mathematical models of wind turbine operations accurately represent the behavior of an actual wind turbine. Their research has been based on the General Electric 1.5 megawatt wind turbine, which makes the data collected at the wind center more applicable to their research.
Graduate student Breen will be using this data for his thesis titled “Model Validation of the GE 1.5 MW Turbine.”
“I’m really glad this is happening. It’s a great opportunity to be immersed in what the renewable field is like and the challenges that are there, and how we can contribute to the industry,” Breen said. “This is great experience for my future.”
Breen is majoring in electrical engineering and plans to graduate next semester. He plans to work in the renewable energy field after graduation.
“The College procured the wind turbine in 2008 with a twofold purpose in mind. First and foremost is to support the training of the Mesalands students in wind energy technology to perform the turbine maintenance on wind farms,” said Jim Morgan, director of the North American Wind Research and Training Center. “Secondly, the turbine is available to researchers as a platform for the development and enhancement of programs, for the betterment of the wind industry.”