U grabs $8 million for wind turbine

The stimulus grant will fund a new wind turbine and research facility at UMore Park.

by Briana Bierschbach

The University of Minnesota, in partnership with other universities and businesses, grabbed an $8 million stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build and research wind turbines. The University will use the funds to build a new Siemens 2.3-megawatt turbine and research facility over the next two years at University-owned UMore Park in Rosemount, Minn., 25 miles southeast of campus. At the facility, researchers will study how to improve the efficiency and durability of wind turbines and improve land-based and offshore wind generation, Dick Hemmingsen, director of the UniversityâÄôs Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE), said. The funds will also broaden research and learning opportunities for students, he said. The University hopes to develop web-based courses for students specifically focused on wind power technologies. They also hope to form student internships with some of the many business partners on the project, including Honeywell, Lockheed Martin and 3M. The University is among three university-led consortiums that will receive a portion of a $24 million pool of stimulus funds as part of the DOEâÄôs Wind and Hydropower Technologies Program. The two other schools âÄî the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Maine âÄî also received about $8 million in grants. Part of the reason the University won the award over other schools could have been some initial legwork put in by the IREE, Hemmingsen said. The department formed the collaboration and provided early-stage research funding to support the project, he said. Another factor is Minnesota. âÄúMinnesota has more aggressive goals than much of the rest of the country in terms of renewable energy,âÄù Hemmingsen said. âÄúI think the DOE recognized that.âÄù Think tank Minnesota 2020 released a report in July stating that Minnesota can capitalize on wind energy and spark job growth in a down economy with the right amount of government support. Minnesota, the fourth largest provider of wind energy in the nation, could create more than 2,200 jobs and generate about $9 billion in economic development over the next several decades by constructing 4,059 megawatts of wind generated power, according to the report.