Campus News

Green campus: Wind turbine cuts energy costs

Wind turbine
The wind turbine on Kirkwood Community College’s main campus gets an annual return of about $100,000 from the power grid. PHOTO BY JESSICA MCWILLIAMS

Kirkwood Community College is currently designated as a Green Campus nationally. With renewable energy resources available and abundant in the Cedar Rapids area, Kirkwood is a leader in educating green energy workers. 

With a working wind turbine on campus and a bank of solar panels on the Iowa City campus Kirkwood is dedicated and looking to further their green energy initiatives in the future.  

The wind turbine currently generates 2.5 Megawatts per hour and gets a return of about $100,000 annually from the power grid to which it contributes.  

The wind turbine was built 10 years ago and has surpassed the normal lifespan of a wind turbine which rests at seven years. Kirkwood is looking to renew the wind turbine, ‘repower’ it or replace the blades, gearbox and cells.  

“Lots and lots of wind turbines are going up around Iowa. We like to be the producers of the students that are going to go work on those wind turbines. But it’s nice to have our own laboratory on site with our wind turbine as well,” said Troy McQuillen, Kirkwood’s vice president of Facilities.  

Current estimates put the project of repowering the turbine at $1 million and McQuillen would like to partner with local energy companies to do so and make them the leader in renewable energy communication.  

The Iowa City campus is also powered by solar panels that cover about 30% of the energy used on the Iowa City campus.  

Kirkwood’s infrastructure also uses geo-thermal heating and cooling options for most of their buildings to help decrease power usage on heating and cooling.  

Not only has the campus used green energy but they have other green practices like recycling, composting and green cleaning chemicals, and they are looking to do more.  

Kirkwood has been dedicated to finding newer more advanced ways of giving back to the environment, and they do so because of the students who admittedly support clean, renewable energy.  

“It’s so popular because your generation [Gen Z] supported it and wanted what we were going to do next. With student support and vocalization, along with a complicated infrastructure on campus, we wanted to be on the leading edge of that [renewable energy],” McQuillen said.

Image courtesy of admin | Kirkwood Communiqué

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