Deputy Secretary of Energy Poneman and Senator Franken visit U’s Eolos Wind Research Field Station

February 2, 2012

University leaders hosted U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman and Senator Al Franken on January 27 for a special visit to the University’s Eolos Wind Energy Research Field Station at UMore Park in Rosemount, Minnesota. This visit is among a handful of national stops by senior U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) administrators to highlight federal investments in clean energy research and technology development.

The University of Minnesota was one of three university consortia to receive a DOE wind energy research grant in 2009. The University’s $7.9 million award, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, supports an academy-industry consortium focused on wind energy research and education to advance technology development, create economic opportunities and help to further the national goal to increase wind power to 20% by 2030.

A key outcome of the award is construction of the Wind Energy Research Field Station, featuring a U.S.-made, 2.5 megawatt Clipper Liberty wind turbine and a 426-foot meteorological research tower. Commissioned in October 2011, the facility is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments and sensors to measure weather conditions, wind speed and turbulence and the impact they have on the turbine structural reliability and wind energy capturing ability. Eolos researchers are currently focused on describiing and characterizing the turbine in its baseline, un-modified state.

The visit included a technical briefing by Fotis Sotiropoulos, director of the Eolos Wind Research Consortium, professor of civil engineering and director of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory in the U’s College of Science and Engineering, on current and planned industry-academy research collaboration for development of novel technologies and enhancements that can improve the functionality and efficiency of wind turbines. In addition, Sotiropoulos described ongoing educational initiatives to produce the next generation of wind industry leaders.

Following a tour of the Eolos field station, Senator Franken and Deputy Secretary Poneman shared brief remarks on the visit and reflected on goals and opportunities for wind and other renewable energy.