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Friday, September 26, 2008

Green E-Learning: Wimba, Wind Energy, Xcel

Wimba, a provider of software and hosting services used in e-learning solutions, has made a commitment to use wind power for one of its products and services, the Wimba Pronto instant messaging service. Wimba Pronto, an academic instant messaging platform designed to bring informal learning settings online, is now the first instant messaging system powered by wind.

Podcast: click here.

To do so, Wimba ( did not have to install a wind turbine farm near its servers located in New Jersey. Instead, it purchased renewable energy credits (46 a month) from eGreen certified Community Energy to subsidize the electricity consumption of the servers, routers and other IT infrastructure that powers Wimba Pronto. Through this investment, Wimba Pronto will replace more than 4,300 kilowatt/hours of old dirty energy with new clean and green wind energy.

Wimba Pronto and Wimba Pronto Basic have been installed by more than 200 academic institutions including: Grand Rapids Community College, Ivy Tech Community College, University of Missouri–St. Louis, and all 11 public universities in the North Dakota University System.

Wimba Pronto

This summer's spike in gasoline prices spurred what was already a very strong trend for students and universities to move to e-learning in order to reduce expenditures for gasoline, heating, cooling, and lighting. The rate of growth in online programs is expected to continue to increase ( Some have pointed out that there will be increases in home energy consumption for elearners who study at home, and increased wifi and energy useage for elearners who study on the road. Nevertheless, the net energy savings is significant.

Without purchasing wind turbines, how can one use renewable energy? The key is in teamwork between energy providers, businesses, and consumers. In order to make wind-powered e-learning possible, there must be the support of electricity providers and green energy credit providers.

Xcel Energy (, the nation's largest wind power provider, is heavily involved in supporting the efforts of individual businesses who want to help grow wind energy by allowing them to purchase Windsource. This is a program where customers can pay a slight premium to promote and expand wind energy in Colorado. Xcel Energy operates wind farms and makes renewable energy available to consumers.

John Deere Wind Farm in the Texas Panhandle sells its electricity to Xcel Energy.

Xcel's innovative and flexible approach to wind energy is encouraging investment and inspiring creative ways to incorporate renewable energy in homes, businesses, and service providers. For example, John Deere has installed an 8-turbine wind farm in the Texas Panhandle near Dumas. As one can see in the photo, the scene is serene, and the turbines are almost soundless, even on a windy day. Xcel purchases the energy that they generate, and brings it into the regional grid. In other cases, Xcel Energy purchases solar energy.

The future is very exciting for "green e-learning." Not only does the solution itself reduce the use of hydrocarbon useage, because of innovative trading, brokering, and the willingness to invest in green energy production, the energy used to power elearning solutions and services can be green.

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