Illinois State Dedicates Center for Renewable Energy
Submitted by Eric Jome, media relations ISU
Through its newly-dedicated Center for Renewable Energy, Illinois State University is helping to meet the education and research needs of the nation’s rapidly expanding renewable energy industry. The Center coordinates education, outreach and research efforts on wind, solar, biofuel and other alternative energy sources.
The Center brings together faculty from several academic disciplines and colleges at Illinois State to support the University’s renewable energy major, provide the public with objective research-based information on renewable energy and facilitate applied research through collaborations with other universities. Dave Loomis, an associate professor of economics serves as the Center’s director. Dave Kennell, an instructional assistant professor of technology, and Randy Winter, a professor of agricultural economics, are the Center’s associate directors.
Corporate partnerships are a vital part of the Center’s operation, providing financial support for education opportunities, such as internships and professional seminars. Founding members include Horizon Wind Energy LLC, State Farm Insurance and Suzlon Wind Energy Corp. Representatives from those corporations serve on the Center’s governing board and provide vital industry expertise on real-world issues in the growing renewable energy field.
“We are excited to partner with such outstanding corporations to bring talent to the renewable energy industry, to educate the public on critical issues and to research cutting edge energy challenges,” said Dave Loomis, director of the Center for Renewable Energy. “The Center will help the State of Illinois take advantage of the tremendous economic growth in the renewable energy field.”
Support for the University’s renewable energy major, which includes courses in technology, agriculture, and economics, is multi-faceted. The Center coordinates an advisory board of industry experts, facilitates an internship program for students in the major, brings energy industry experts to campus for seminars, funds scholarships and provides ongoing financial support for the major.
The Center also administers the Illinois Wind Working Group (IWWG) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America program. The IWWG, which consists of over 100 key wind energy stakeholders from across Illinois, sponsors annual conferences to promote the use and economic development of wind energy.
The Center’s Turner Hall laboratory facilities include an array of technology used for hands-on education and research purposes. Technology includes photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of Turner Hall and a photovoltaic/wind turbine hybrid system at Illinois State’s Horticulture Center, located off Raab Rd. in Normal. Monitoring and data collection equipment for those systems allow students to analyze system performance. The lab also contains a mobile SODAR (Sonic Detection and Ranging) wind assessment unit, which measures wind speed and direction up to a height of 200 meters. An 80 meter meteorological tower has been in operation for several years at the University Farm near Lexington. Data from these wind measurement tools will be used by students to assess wind resources and predict annual energy production.
The Center for Renewable Energy was approved by the Illinois State University Board of Trustees in November, 2007 and by the Illinois Board of Higher Education in August, 2008. It was established with the help of a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“Meeting our current and future energy needs in a clean and sustainable way is one of the biggest challenges we face today,” said Illinois State President Al Bowman. “Illinois State’s Center for Renewable Energy brings together faculty expertise, industry partners and cutting-edge technology to support education and research that will help us meet that challenge.”