U of M Receives $8 Million DOE Grant for Wind Energy Research

DCTC serving as academic partner in consortium

A consortium led by the University of Minnesota will receive up to $8 million for wind energy research and education from the U.S. Department of Energy. The grant, which is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is part of the DOE’s Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program.

Dakota County Technical College and Syracuse University are academic partners in the consortium with Siemens Energy, Barr Engineering, Eaton Corporation, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Luna Innovations, 3M and WindLogics rounding out the list of the U of M’s industrial partners.

The U of M plans to install a new Siemens 2.3 MW turbine research facility at the University of Minnesota Outreach Research and Education Park, better known as UMore Park, a 5,000-acre site in Rosemount, Minn. UMore is also the proposed site for the development over the next three decades of a university-funded, master-planned sustainable community of 30,000 residents.

For perspective, the 1.65 MW wind turbine owned by Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., is 360 feet tall as measured by the top sweep of the rotor span. Capable of handling 40 percent of Carleton’s annual electricity consumption, the turbine produces approximately 5,000,000 kilowatt-hours of pollution-free electricity a year—enough to power 600 typical households.

UMore Park

UMore Park

Research at the new UMore facility will focus on mechanical power transmission and electric generator systems while working to increase energy capture for turbines, broaden operational envelopes, and reduce structural loads and fatigue.

The university also plans to develop and deliver graduate and undergraduate courses connected to wind and other renewable energies.

According to Dick Hemmingsen, the director of the university’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, or IREE, the research project also includes the installation of two smaller wind turbines on the DCTC campus as well as another operational turbine on the U of M Morris campus.

“We are excited to be working with the University of Minnesota on this project, which will go a long way in advancing the technology in this emerging green market,” said Ronald E. Thomas, DCTC president. “Realizing the tremendous promise of renewable energies is essential for the long-term strength of the national and global economies.”

Recent statistics show that the United States ranks first globally in wind power generation with Minnesota taking fourth place among the states. A comprehensive global study found that the wind power potential on land and offshore could surpass72 trillion watts, or more than five times the planet’s current energy use of all types.

The University of Minnesota is one of three university-led consortia receiving an equal share of a $24 million DOE grant pool. The Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Maine also took home roughly $8 million in wind energy grant funds.

“Wind power has the potential to provide 20 percent of our electricity and create hundreds of thousands of jobs,” reported U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a related media release. “We need to position the United States as the clear leader in this industry, or watch these high-paying jobs go overseas. The investment we’re making today will help ensure that America has both the talent and the technology we need to compete.”