University of Minnesota Commissions New Wind Energy Research Station Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy

October 26, 2011

The U.S. Department of Energy today celebrated the commissioning of a 2.5-megawatt wind turbine at the Eolos Wind Energy Research Station, which it supported with funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The research station, located at the University of Minnesota Outreach, Research and Education Park, features the newly-constructed, American-made Clipper Liberty wind turbine, as well as a 426-foot-tall meteorological research tower. The new installation will allow researchers to conduct tests that could improve wind turbine efficiency and help train the next generation of wind industry technicians and engineers who will bolster our nation's competitiveness in the global clean energy economy.

"Broadly deploying wind power and developing a skilled workforce to design, install, and service these high-tech turbines will help us diversify our energy portfolio, reduce carbon pollution, and create thousands of jobs over the next decade," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Projects like the research station at the University of Minnesota provide hands-on training for talented students and help advance the technologies necessary to achieve the Administration's goal of generating 80% of our nation's electricity from clean energy resources by 2035."

The University of Minnesota will also use the new wind turbine and research tower to conduct ongoing studies that test ways to optimize wind turbine operations, improve wind farm design, minimize interactions between turbines and radar, and monitor turbine performance.

The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and the University of Maine in Orono were selected in October 2009 to each receive $7.9 million of Recovery Act funds to develop university-led consortia for wind energy research. The consortia support university research and development programs to improve wind turbine performance and reliability, as well as provide career educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in wind energy technologies.

The planning and construction of the Eolos Research Station has supported local construction and engineering jobs, and the new research consortium has fostered new collaborative research projects between academia and U.S. private-sector industry. For example, the consortium is leveraging the University of Minnesota's expertise in aerodynamics, 3M's expertise in product development and manufacturing, and Clipper Windpower and United Technologies Research Center's experience with testing, to develop and test surface-mounted films that could make wind turbine blades more aerodynamically efficient, reduce blade noise, and reduce ice formation.

Partners in the Minnesota Consortium include 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; and DOE's Sandia National Laboratories and National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The consortium is funded by the Department of Energy through a $7.9 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant, plus $3.1 million from consortium members.

DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy invests in clean energy technologies that strengthen the economy, protect the environment, and reduce dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about DOE's efforts to research, test, develop, and deploy innovative wind energy technologies.