What does it take to get a 2.3-megawatt experimental wind turbine off the ground? In addition to a 263-foot tower and a REALLY tall crane, it takes a vision that the turbine will make the world a better place, connections to create a critical mass of partners - and investment by those committed to making it happen.
Last month a 2.3-megawatt experimental wind turbine began turning at the University's UMore Park in Rosemount. Centerpiece of the University's new Wind Energy Research Station, which was established with an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the turbine will test a variety of innovations to make wind energy more efficient and cost-effective and provide education opportunities around wind energy.
Admirable is the partnership that put it there: The Eolos Wind Energy Research Consortium, consisting of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power, Syracuse University, Dakota County Technical College, Mesabi Range Community and Technical College, 3M, Barr Engineering, Clipper Windpower LLC., United Technologies Research Center, Lockheed Martin, Micron Optics, Ryan Companies, WindLogics, Xcel Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Equally admirable is the institution that made it possible for the U's St. Anthony Falls Laboratory to assemble that partnership and successfully compete for the DOE grant: IonE's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment.
"IREE was instrumental in helping SAFL establish contacts with the local industry and providing matching funds which led to the University's first major wind energy research award from Xcel Energy," consortium leader Fotis Sotiropoulos, a member of the College of Science and Engineering faculty and head of SAFL, told a legislative review committee last spring. "This award paved the way for the major consortium grant proposal submitted by the University of Minnesota to the DOE to establish an industry/academe consortium on wind energy. IREE's contribution were also critical in this effort by helping the University broaden its ties with major industrial partners who were included in the proposal and providing $400,000 in matching funds. Because of this major award, which was funded in January 2010, the University of Minnesota is now a national leader in wind energy research."
Read more about this new "life-size lab" for wind energy here.