NNSA, Texas Tech team on research

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Texas Tech University have signed an agreement to analyze the feasibility of creating a “world-class” wind energy research center northeast of Amarillo.

The proposed facility would be on land that Texas Tech owns at NNSA’s Pantex site, the only US nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly complex. NNSA, part of the US Energy Department, through Pantex maintains the safety, security and reliability of the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

The center would have access to much of the 6,000 acres (2.4sq km) of university-owned land there to conduct wind research and develop wind energy technologies “that help resolve the key scientific challenges facing the industry,” according to a joint communiqué.

It would also develop a utility-scale wind energy system “to support the nation’s long-term energy goals,”it adds, without providing detail.  

Another aspect of the agreement is the new Pantex Renewable Energy Project (PREP), a five-turbine, 11.5MW wind farm that is being built on federal land east of the main plant. Siemens is supplying the turbines and building the array, which is scheduled for completion this summer. It will supply about 60% of the plant’s annual electricity needs.

The pact will allow Texas Tech and its National Wind Institute (NWI) to receive access to information about PREP and the plant’s energy usage, including operational and output data. This will be used for research on ways to make renewable wind energy more reliable and efficient, and to develop Texas Tech’s next generation coursework in wind energy.

“Pantex has clearly signaled its commitment to lead the way toward a more sustainable energy future for the federal government and the country as a whole,” says Steve Erhart, manager of NNSA’s Production Office which is responsible for contract management and oversight at the Pantex site.

“As the site of the largest federally owned wind farm, Pantex is well positioned to be a leader in the federal government’s emphasis for increased use of renewable wind energy,” Erhart adds.

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