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School of Energy Resources Adds Center of Excellence for Wind Energy Research

March 22, 2021
wind farm

A foundational pillar of the School of Energy Resources (SER) at the University of Wyoming (UW) is its dedication to innovative research to find solutions to energy development challenges in Wyoming. In order to accomplish this mission, SER supports research through its Centers of Excellence (COE), which facilitate the investigation of energy issues in an assortment of disciplines.

In order to efficiently utilize the talents and expertise across UW, SER brings together faculty and graduate students from multiple disciplines by funding COE’s throughout campus. This approach allows SER to support faculty that develop important energy research programs to benefit the state.

SER aims to serve as a research incubator, helping to get the COE’s up and running, and highlighting the outcomes that offer solutions to industry. As the needs of the state evolve, new centers may form to work on emerging challenges, while others may disband as their programs are completed while others become independent and self-sufficient. 

“The Centers of Excellence fill an import gap in finding energy solutions,” says Director of Research, Scott Quillinan. “Often times a professor’s area of expertise can play a vital role in advancing the directive of energy-driven economic development for Wyoming. By offering our support and resources, we can hopefully expedite the advancement of new technologies.”

When a center becomes independent or is sunset, it also opens the door for SER to reallocate resources and address new emerging issues. Most recently, SER has directed support to the Wind Energy Research Center (WERC).

Operating in the CEAS, WERC was created in 2008 to address the potential for wind energy growth in Wyoming. SER is pleased by the opportunity to reinvigorate and invest in the program, allocate resources to bolster its mission, as well as incorporate the much-needed policy element to compliment technology development.

Under the direction of Professors Jonathan Naughton and Michael Stoellinger in the CEAS, WERC focuses its research efforts on modeling the wind, improving wind-energy conversion technologies and addressing transmission grid impacts. Using theoretical, computational, and experimental approaches, WERC works with its university and federal lab partners on the interaction between the wind and the wind turbines that make up a wind plant.  Similar efforts address transmission impacts and economic issues associated with wind energy.

The emphasis on improving wind technology and its integration with existing electricity production is increasingly being brought to the forefront of Wyoming dialogue. SER hopes to refine and drive those conversations in a meaningful way with the aid of WERC.

 “WERC is among the few university-based centers in the U.S. that has a decade or more of working to advance the penetration of wind energy into the U.S. electricity mix,” says Naughton. “We are excited to be working with and supported by SER to increase wind energy production in Wyoming to add to the State’s proud history of developing its rich energy resources. To underscore the need for this, Wyoming was second only to Texas in development of new wind energy installations in 2020.”

In addition to the Wind Energy Research Center, other Centers of Excellence currently supported by SER include the Center for Economic Geology Research, Center for Energy Regulation & Policy Analysis, Center for Carbon Capture and Conversion, Center for Biogenic Gas Research, Center for Air Quality, and the Center for Produced Water Management, which have ongoing projects that make significant contributions to Wyoming energy research. More information can be found on all of the Centers of Excellence on the SER webpage.

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