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(866) Benefits of Partnership among Academe and Industry, A Case Study

Evan M. Gaertner
Undergraduate, James Madison University


One of the first commercial wind development efforts in Virginia was initiated by Solaya Energy, LLC in 2008. The first phase of the project will entail the installation of 54 MW of capacity followed by a second phase for which an additional 105 MW is planned. Solaya has taken the initiative to engage in a rather non-traditional and proactive fashion a range of local entities including a flagship state university, key local officials and boards, and the landowners who ultimately will both host and acquire an ownership stake in the project. The ridges that stretch along rural western Rockingham County, Virginia along the border with West Virginia, is being studied by several companies for potential commercial wind power. Solaya is one that made the strategic decision to engage closely with landowners who will host the project, and empower them to ultimately acquire an ownership stake in the project; contribute to the development process for a permitting ordinance; and partner with the Virginia Center for Wind Energy at James Madison University (JMU) to study the wind resource. A cooperative agreement between JMU and Solaya has resulted in the sharing of data, application of advanced instrumentation (SODAR) for wind profiling and data validation, modeling for optimization of project design, and study of forecasting strategies. A case study of successful collaboration among industry, academe, and community that has resulted in unique development and educational opportunities will be described.

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