MU Campus Facilities works with GlenMartin on turbine

The turbine will be open to students and faculty for research opportunities.
Workers check the generator's battery and engine as the wind turbine generator arrives at the construction site of the Campus Facilities lot. The turbine, measuring 130 feet tall, will be the first wind turbine located on campus.

Rising about 130 feet above the intersection, a new wind turbine constructed Monday will generate 20 kilowatts of electricity for campus facilities.

The wind turbine was built on a hill on the corner of Monk Drive and Stadium Boulevard, across the street from the Hearnes Center and the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute and in front of the Beef Barn.

“The turbine will supply all of the energy needed to run the Beef Barn,” MU Sustainability Office spokeswoman Karlan Seville said. “We use the Beef Barn for storage, plus several shops for Campus Facilities. Any extra electricity will go back into our grid to supply electricity somewhere else on campus.”

Since MU owns and operates its own power plant, all of the energy created stays on MU’s grid, Seville said.

MU Energy Management, a faction of Campus Facilities, worked on the project as well. The two offices partnered with GlenMartin, a Columbia-based company. GlenMartin specializes in infrastructure development of support structures and network connectivity for a wide variety of telecommunications and utility solutions, according to its website.

The turbine project has been in the works for about a year, although construction only began last winter, Seville said.

The sections of the pole were custom-designed by GlenMartin with hydraulics, GlenMartin field operations James Tinsley director said.

“I’m the person who gets yelled at if something goes wrong,” he said, laughing.

The turbine is built with not only energy creation in mind, but also education of MU’s students, Seville said. The turbine will be open to students and faculty for research opportunities.

“It’s a fold-over design,” Tinsley said. “It’ll take 10 minutes, but the whole pole can fold down using hydraulics so that students can see what’s going on. It keeps you from having to climb all the way up there.”

This is a part of the turbine project Seville said she is especially excited to explore.

“We’re not just excited about it for sustainability purposes and the purpose of our Climate Action Plan, but also for demonstration purposes,” Seville said. “Students will be able to see how it works, what's going on with it.”

The fully built pole weighs about 32,000 pounds, and the generator weighs around 4,200 pounds with the blades on it, Tinsley said.

“It can actually turn in this wind,” Tinsley said, holding his hand out to feel the breeze. “It can work in wind as slow as 3 to 4 mph, but the ideal is 8 mph. This is a pretty good spot. (The turbine) had to be more than 100 feet tall to get the wind, but this is a good spot.”

Missouri has the 13th highest average wind speed in the U.S. and is ranked 13th in the nation for potential wind power installed capacity, according to the Missouri Partnership website.

The hydraulics will be installed within the next couple of weeks, Tinsley said.

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