UH Manoa campus to demonstrate new energy-generating wind turbine device

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
David Nixon, 956-7718
Social Sciences Public Policy Center
Posted: Feb 27, 2008

The Mānoa campus of the University of Hawai‘i will be the demonstration site of a newly designed, energy-generating wind turbine.

The PacWind SeaHawk vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) is being donated by the Energy Management Group to UH Mānoa for installation on the roof of Saunders Hall, home to the Sustainable Saunders Initiative - a collaborative effort among faculty and students to pursue workplace sustainability. The small VAWT will provide an opportunity for students to study the potential of wind generated power in an urban environment and coupled with a solar PV array, this system will demonstrate the potential benefits of solar/wind renewable energy power systems.

Hawaii is blessed with abundant solar and wind resources that can be harvested to generate electricity. UH has set goals of generating 25% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and achieving energy independence by 2050.

"This is a small demonstration and testing site that is vital to move UH Mānoa to the forefront of research and education in these fields", said Professor David Nixon, chair of the Steering Committee for the Sustainable Saunders Initiative and Professor in the Social Sciences Public Policy Center.

"We‘re grateful and excited about this incredible new technology," said Shanah Trevenna, student coordinator for the Initiative.

Richard Figliuzzi, President of Energy Management Group noted that, "We‘re pleased to support the Sustainable Saunders Initiative. It‘s a great opportunity to contribute to a program with the viable prospect of substantial outcomes including education for tomorrow‘s leaders, research and renewable energy for UH Manoa in a rigorous physical and intellectual environment. We‘ll be gaining valuable real-world experience with our vertical axis wind turbine. After our study, there is the prospect that the educational-scale program can likely be ʻscaled-up‘ to match facility-scale specifications."

Because the project involves both public policy and scientific research, the Public Policy Center formed partnerships with the UH Mānoa College of Engineering and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. "Many of the students working on the Sustainable Saunders Initiative are engineering students, anyway, because Saunders has become a focal point for sustainability research campus-wide," Nixon noted.

Unlike most modern wind turbines, the PacWind VAWT is essentially silent and not harmful to birds, so there are a much wider range of potential installation sites all over urban and residential Oahu and the neighbor islands that would create zero nuisance. The Public Policy Center, its UH partners, and the Sustainable Saunders students will be assessing the performance and cost structure of this type of turbine, along with installation possibilities and barriers.