UNI goes green with installation of wind-solar hybrid power station

January 28, 2011

Reg Pecen, professor, industrial technology, 319-273-2598, r.pecen@uni.edu

Stacey Christensen, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728, stacey.christensen@uni.edu


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- A 12-kilowatt wind-solar hybrid power station was recently completed at the University of Northern Iowa. Built next to the Industrial Technology Center, south of University Avenue, the station brings together two sustainable sources of energy that will reduce carbon emissions and provide a renewable energy teaching and research facility.Wind turbine installation

The power station was funded in part by a grant from the Iowa Alliance for Wind Innovation and Novel Development (IAWIND), a partnership of state and local governments, education institutions and the private sector that coordinates research and education in the rapidly expanding wind energy industry. Other funding came from Waverly Light and Power and in-kind contributions.

"Iowa is a wonderful state for wind-solar hybrid projects," explained Reg Pecen, professor of industrial technology, who designed and built the power station with Hong "Jeff" Nie, assistant professor in the department. "This is because its rich 'wind crop' from November through March and its 'sunshine crop' from April through September complement one another for zero-emission electricity generation."

The electricity generated by the hybrid power station is being used as a renewable energy input for a smart-grid-based greenhouse educational demonstration project to aid in teaching and research on smart-grid and energy-efficiency issues. Pecen used the system in a new wind energy class he taught in the fall 2010 semester, and he plans to offer workshops for Cedar Valley area science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) teachers and local farmers who are interested in establishing small-scale wind-solar power systems. "We would like to prove that wind-solar hybrid power systems work well for helping Iowa's very valuable energy independence efforts," said Pecen.

Rich Judas, president of a local wind energy company, Wind Rich Inc., and Chad Hoyt, president of Chad's Electric Inc. worked with Pecen and Nie for the wind tower foundation construction, installation, required state permit and electrical grid connections. Approximately 18,835 kilowatt-hours of wind power and 3,325 kilowatt-hours of solar-power-based electrical energy are being harnessed from the system, keeping approximately 31,025 pounds of CO2 emissions out of the air each year by using renewable energy sources instead of coal-fired sources.

For more information regarding the power station, contact Reg Pecen, professor of industrial technology, at 319-273-2598 or r.pecen@uni.edu.