Wind Turbine Powers Minnesota Campus in Two Ways

Minnesota will have another reason to celebrate Earth Day on April 22. A 230-foot wind turbine was installed at the University of Minnesota’s Renewable Energy Research and Demonstration Center, and the turbine will be commissioned during an Earth Day celebration.

The turbine was completed in February, and the technology is a key step in integrating renewable energy into Minnesota’s rural economy, and strengthening renewable energy research and education in the state, according to the University. Power from the turbine should supply 5.6 million kWh of power each year to the nearby University of Minnesota, Morris (UMM) campus, which would be over half the campus’s annual electricity use. “Our goal is to establish systems research to stimulate the renewable energy industry and provide a model for rural communities and agricultural producers to integrate renewable energy systems into their economies,” said Greg Cuomo, head of the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) at UMM. The University of Minnesota Renewable Energy Research and Demonstration Center is designed as a community-scale project, and the goal is to combine local production and use of renewable energy with state-of-the-art research and demonstrations focusing on wind, biomass, biofuels, anaerobic digestion and renewable hydrogen. Renewable energy research and demonstration systems under development at the center include: – A biomass district heating and cooling system for UMM – A hybrid wind and biodiesel energy system – An energy “smart” solar building addition to the WCROC office complex – Facilitation of a community anaerobic digester and methane pipeline system UMM is seeking a mix of university, state, federal and private funding to complete these core systems. The wind-to-hydrogen project at the WCROC has received initial funding from the state Commerce Department, the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (pending) and the University’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE). This system should stimulate the use of renewable hydrogen in applications like fuel cells and localized fertilizer production. “Our belief is that the renewable energy research and education we are doing now will deliver a great benefit to Minnesota,” said Cuomo. “Renewable energy is poised to become an important part of our state and nation’s energy future, and Minnesota will be a leader in this work.”

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