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UW Trustees Approve Planning for Wind Energy Research Center Building

May 9, 2008

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees today (Friday) approved the first phase of a planning process for a building that will house a large, closed-loop wind tunnel within a center focused on wind energy research.

The Wind Energy Research Center, created by the College of Engineering and Applied Science, in affiliation with the School for Energy Resources, benefits from a gift from BP America to support the center's research and education plans. The trustees' action also makes the project eligible for matching funds authorized by the Wyoming State Legislature for academic facilities.

The center seeks to become a leading national, university-based interdisciplinary research group focused on wind energy research, says William Gern, UW's vice president for research and economic development. He says the efforts will be accompanied by educational programs to provide a well-qualified workforce to industry and to educate the next generation of technical leaders in the field. The center will also provide outreach programs to inform interested parties statewide about wind technologies.

"The importance of renewable energy resources is undisputed for the state, nation and world," says UW President Tom Buchanan. "I am pleased that the trustees continue to support excellence at UW that leads to national prominence for the University and Wyoming while addressing critical world problems."

Jonathan Naughton, center director and an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, says, "The proximity of the Laramie campus to the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, Colo.) and to the wind-rich sites in the Northern Great Plains, combined with the limited efforts elsewhere in the nation, also provide unique opportunities for the center."

He says the center will address the rapid advancements needed in wind turbine design necessary to achieve the level of wind energy contribution set forth in President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, which suggests 20 percent of the electricity consumption could be provided by wind turbines.

UW Board of Trustees President, Dick Davis of Sheridan, says, "The decision to support the Wind Energy Research Center was not difficult given the obvious benefits that Wyoming and UW should realize from the research, education and outreach that the center will provide."

Gern adds, "Faculty members in the UW College of Engineering and Applied Science have conducted wind energy research for more than 10 years. The focus that the center now provides, through the generosity of BP America, will enable significant growth in education and outreach programs in addition to the research efforts."

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