A new structure is part of the Iowa City skyline — a 37-foot-tall wind turbine. The tower was constructed Tuesday on the University of Iowa campus, both as a power generator and as a learning tool.
Liz Christensen, director of the U-of-I’s Office of Stainability, says the propeller has three fiberglass blades, each about five feet long. “It will generate about 2.4 kilowatts which is roughly the amount used for a single-family home,” Christensen says. “When the power’s not being used or tested by the College of Engineering students, it goes right on our grid for use on the University of Iowa campus.”
While the tower is about the height of four stacked basketball hoops, she says the device is much smaller than most wind turbines that are built just for power generation, visible along many miles of Iowa interstates. “A lot of our engineering students are very interested in renewable energies, especially wind technology,” Christensen says. “The state of Iowa is second in the nation in terms of its wind generation capacity. This serves as an anchor for what we call our Green Energy Discovery District.”
The tower was put up near the Iowa River at the south end of Madison Street. “We’ll have two types of solar panel technologies on display and in use in that area,” Christensen says. “We have a film technology which is on a portion of the Cambus building and we’re in the process of constructing a new solar-electric car charging station that will be down there as well.”
She says the U-of-I power plant is expanding its use of biomass while the school’s fleet of alternative fuel vehicles is also growing. The turbine is being paid for through a $40,000 grant from the Iowa Alliance for Wind Innovation and Novel Development.