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First wind monitoring station at Waties Island goes up

June 18, 2007

Students and engineers from Coastal Carolina University, Clemson University, Santee Cooper and the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) are constructing a wind monitoring station on Waties Island, a barrier island off the coast of Horry County, on June 19 and 20.

Installation of a North Charleston station adjacent to the Cooper River at the former Navy base begins July 18. The station will measure whether coastal winds blow sufficiently to generate electricity.

The Waties Island and North Charleston stations will have three wind gauges, or anemometers, installed on a mobile 160-foot tower equipped with wind direction and barometric temperature gauges and solar sensors. Data will be collected for one year to assess the wind potential with plans for installing a commercial scale wind turbine to support future energy related research in North Charleston. SRNL will analyze the results of the study to identify opportunities for large-scale storage of power generated from coastal wind projects.

The stations are part of the South Carolina Wind for Schools project by the South Carolina Institute for Energy Studies (SCIES) at Clemson University. The goal is to investigate the feasibility of using wind power to generate commercially viable electricity on and off the coast of South Carolina.

"Our hope is that this initiative sets the stage for South Carolina to serve as the hub for offshore wind development along the Atlantic Coast," said SCIES director Nick Rigas. "Our mission is to educate students and the public on this clean and environmentally friendly alternative energy. These two stations will serve as the first steps in establishing a viable coastal and offshore wind program in South Carolina that can help diversify our energy resources and lead to economic development."

SCIES is working under the umbrella of the Clemson University Restoration Institute (CURI), a research center in North Charleston dedicated to the restoration economy that was created to bring together a wide range of experts and researchers. The goal of the institute is to drive economic growth by creating, developing and fostering restoration and environmentally sustainable industries and technologies for South Carolina.

A $15,000 grant from SC Launch!, a South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA) collaboration, will help provide funding for the students in support of the project.

"We are pleased to partner with SCIES on the Wind for Schools demonstration project," said Bill Mahoney, SCRA CEO and SC Launch! acting president. "SC Launch! strongly supports alternative energy demonstration projects within the state, as well as university projects in new technologies that will strengthen South Carolina's knowledge economy," he said.

The South Carolina Institute for Energy Studies (SCIES) is a state-chartered research and development organization housed at Clemson University. The SCIES mission is to develop South Carolina's clean and indigenous energy resources in order to promote economic development, energy security and improve the quality of life for its citizens through research, development, technology transfer, education and contributing to national energy issues in areas of excellence.