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Sen. Al Franken and Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman toured the University of Minnesota Wind Research Field Station at UMore Park
Sen. Al Franken and Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman toured the University of Minnesota Wind Research Field Station at UMore Park

Franken visits UMore

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Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Sen. Al Franken and Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman toured the University of Minnesota Wind Research Field Station at UMore Park Jan. 27. The two received a briefing about research being done at the facility and got to see the turbine up close.

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Franken called the research facility "really unbelievably impressive."

The research consortium, which includes the university and Dakota County Technical College, as well as private companies including 3M, Xcel Energy, Barr Engineering, started research efforts in October when the turbine went online.

The objective of the research facility, which includes a 415-foot turbine, is to improve wind technology to move the nation toward its goal of increasing wind power to 20 percent of all power generated by 2030. Eolos researchers are tackling a wide range of research projects that seek to improve the capture and use of wind energy by increasing reliability, reducing cost and improving operations.

Research and testing that will be done at the facility include exploring techniques to capture more energy from the wind, improve wind farm design, minimize turbine impact on radar, reduce noise, prevent ice build-up on blades and improve blade structure.

Currently researchers are focusing on collecting data with the turbine in an unmodified state. The information is stored on large servers on site and on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. According to information provided by associate director for engineering and facilities Jeff Marr, researchers capture approximately 390 million data points a day, which equals roughly 1.2 megabytes of data every minute.

The U of M-led consortium was one of three universities to receive a U.S. Department of Energy wind energy grant in 2009. The university received $7.9 million to build the turbine. The Department of Energy has set a goal to get 20 percent of the nation's energy from wind by 2030 and Poneman said the Eolos wind research will help achieve that aim through innovations in wind energy.

"This is an exciting thing for us at the Department of Energy," said Poneman.

During a short press conference Franken said he's excited about the work being done at the site. He vowed to continue to fight in the Senate for money to be spent on alternative energy resources.

Franken said he would like to see smaller wind projects get more funding going forward.

For more information about the Eolos Wind Energy Research Consortium visit eolos.umn.edu.

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