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‘U’ Unveils Wind Turbine For Electricity, Research

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(credit: CBS) Lauren Casey
Lauren Casey joined the WCCO-TV weather team in August 2011, a...
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ROSEMOUNT, Minn. (WCCO) — The University of Minnesota unveiled a giant wind turbine on Tuesday at its U-More Park facility in Rosemount. While the turbine can produce a lot of electricity, that is not its main purpose.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Minnesota is already one of the top five states for power generated by wind.

It might look a little out of place on the 5,000-acre research facility that is mostly agricultural. But the giant wind turbine stands next to a meteorological tower. Together they cost about $8 million — paid for by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“The purpose of the grant is to reduce the cost of wind energy and to make wind energy affordable in years to come,” said Rod Larkins with the University of Minnesota.

The wind turbine is 262-feet tall and on a good, breezy day makes enough electricity to power more than 2,000 average homes.

Just as important as the turbine is the meteorological research tower near-by that measures how changes in wind speed and direction impact the efficiency of the turbine.

But the turbine is about more than adding electricity to the power grid.

“Producing innovative solutions to help improve the efficiency of wind energy and improve the reliability and reduce the cost of energy. So this turbine behind me, is really to get the industry to try solutions and new technological innovations,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos with the University of Minnesota.

Unlike conventional power plants, harvesting wind energy eliminates the need for fossil fuels.

“Well wind energy is clean energy, it’s renewable. It doesn’t cost anybody anything to generate it, it’s completely environmentally safe and clean,” said Larkins.

Right now, about 2 percent of electricity in the U.S. comes from wind. Researchers want to increase that to 20 percent by the year 2030.

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