By Bob Geiger
Dolan Media Newswires
Minneapolis — The University of Minnesota plans to install a 2.5-megawatt Clipper wind turbine at its UMore Park property in Rosemount, helping the U.S. Department of Energy achieve its goal of boosting domestic wind power generation.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced last year that the university would receive as much as $8 million in stimulus money, part of an overall $24 million economic stimulus grant to three universities in a wind power research consortium. The other universities are the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and the University of Maine.
“The consortium’s addition of Clipper Windpower is part of a strategy to advance the wind power industry over the next decade,” according to a statement attributed to Fotis Sotiropoulos, director of the Eolos wind energy research group leading the university’s project.
Sotiropoulos also is director of the university’s St. Anthony Falls Research Laboratory.
Wind energy trade groups and, more recently, the Energy Department, are promoting the idea of developing enough wind energy to supply 20 percent of the nation’s power by 2030, reducing U.S. dependence on oil imports and cutting carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
The Clipper turbine scheduled to be installed in December will give university officials an opportunity to study energy capture and operational capabilities. In addition, the university plans to roll out web-based graduate and undergraduate courses that focus on wind power technology and integration with other renewable energy technologies.
The university has ambitious plans for the 5,000-acre property called UMore, which stands for University of Minnesota Outreach, Research and Education Park. During the next three decades, university officials want to transform the site into a sustainable community of 20,000 to 30,000 people.
University officials recently issued a request for proposals for the second phase of an environmental assessment on 3,500 acres of the site.
When the Energy Department announced the three-university effort to support wind energy technology research, development and career education last October, university officials said they planned to install a German-manufactured Siemens 2.3-megawatt turbine.
Since then, university officials have switched to Clipper as their wind turbine brand of choice.
California-based Clipper maintains a 330,000-square-foot wind turbine manufacturing and assembly facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
University researchers said they expect to visit Clipper’s California headquarters and its Iowa factory during the next few months, with reciprocal visits to UMore Park and the university campus by Clipper executives before the turbine’s installation.
Amir Mikhail, senior vice president of engineering for Clipper, said his company is interested in testing new ways to increase wind turbine performance and reliability and helping train the next generation of wind power industry engineers.