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TCU Magazine "Alma Matters"

Blowin' in the wind ...

TCU, Oxford form 5-year partnership to study wind-energy development.

By Kathryn Hopper

What do TCU, Oxford University and West Texas winds have in common?

A great deal now that the two universities are teaming up to research the effects wind farms have on local habitats.

TCU officials announced yesterday a five-year, $2 million research initiative that will study the impact of wind energy efforts on wildlife habitats. The effort is funded by a grant by FPL Energy LLC, which operates wind farms west of Abilene.

"We're going to help the world better understand the impact of wind power," said Mike Slattery, (left) director of TCU's Institute of Environmental Science and an Oxford alumnus. "This collaboration will afford unprecedented research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students."

The study will study the impacts of the giant turbines used to produce wind energy on bird and bat habitats as well as lives of people who live in their shadows. Researchers will also measure just how much wind power helps reduce our our carbon footprint if we use wind instead of fossil fuels for a greater percentage of our energy needs.

The nation's wind-energy capacity more than quadrupled between 2000 and 2006. Despite the growth in its use, wind energy still generates only 1 percent of the nation's electricity according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute will be examining wind projects across the pond while TCU researchers will look at U.S. wind farms including those in West Texas, Slattery said.

Garrett Boone, founder of The Container Store and creator of Texas Business for Clean Air, also spoke at the news conference, praising the research effort and hoping it would help north Texas improve its air quality by relying less on fossil fuels.

"We are all part of the problem and we are all also part of the solution," he said.

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