Construction is underway in the northern Panhandle on what will become the largest federally-owned wind farm in the country. The Pantex Renewable Energy Project (PREP) will increase the state's lead as the nation's number one provider of wind energy. Texas Tech will conduct research at the facility focused on improving the performance of wind farms.
European engineering firm Siemens will build five 2.5 megawatt turbines on 1500 acres east of the plant, located about 18 miles northeast of Amarillo. When it's completed in about a year, wind energy will provide more than 60 percent of the electricity needs for the plant. The plant is the nation's sole facility for assembly and disassembly of nuclear weapons. Partners in the project include the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, Siemens and Texas Tech University.
"We have the people that have the background to work on this," Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance said. "That's the reason Pantex wanted us involved. And not only did they want us involved, the Department of Energy wanted us involved. That's the reason we've been really the lead that's going to be involved in this, as far as research and development."
Hance noted Texas Tech is the only university in the nation that offers a Ph.D in wind engineering and is relied upon to conduct research for the Department of Energy’s new wind turbine test facility: Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT), commissioned last month in Lubbock.