Heidi Strawn
June 2, 2010

Wind turbine

Courtesy Stock.XCHNG

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The newly formed National Institute for Renewable Energy, led by Texas Tech University, plans to research the use of wind energy and develop the renewable energy industry.

The Texas Tech University System, the Innovate Texas Foundation and The Wind Alliance recently announced the formation of the National Institute for Renewable Energy, an independent public-private collaboration that will work to solve key scientific and technology challenges facing the wind-energy industry. The announcement came during the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2010 conference in Dallas.

NIRE will operate a for-profit business component that will design, construct and operate research wind farms, selling the generated energy in the commercial marketplace to fund a nonprofit research center. NIRE also will provide services to wind-energy industry partners and offer a wind-energy industry consortium, to be managed by The Wind Alliance.

“Texas Tech is nationally recognized as a leader in wind-energy research,” says Texas Tech University System chancellor Kent Hance. “We are grateful to be associated with this collaboration to address the future energy needs of our state and nation. As our country moves toward energy independence, Texas Tech will continue to develop innovative solutions and make advancements in all areas of the power-generation sector.”

Initial plans for the Texas Tech-led coalition and national institute include:

  • Facilitating technology development to further decrease the cost of wind energy and other renewable energy sources and to develop and optimize energy-storage technologies
  • Hiring additional renewable-energy scientists at Texas Tech to direct energy research
  • Purchasing mobile equipment to map wind flows and help design more efficient commercial wind farms

According to Texas Tech, wind energy will fuel more than just high-paying jobs by providing incremental power production and expanding rural-community and school-district tax receipts. When combined with other forms of energy, wind power expands energy independence and extends Texas’ global energy leadership.

Start-up funding for NIRE has been derived from many of the economic development organizations in West Texas.

Organizational planning and support for the wind-energy initiative was provided by Innovate Texas Foundation, a nonprofit institution that serves as a catalyst for collaboration and transactions among universities, industry, investors and government, enabling them to engage with the global economy more efficiently and effectively.

National organizations indicating support for NIRE include the AWEA, The Wind Alliance and The Wind Coalition. They will be joined by as many as 30 private-sector firms with large investments in renewable-energy projects.

“This initiative will go a long way toward furthering public academic research in wind energy,” says Carsten Hein Westergaard, director of global technology for Vestas. “Vestas is also supporting Texas Tech in the field of wind-energy research and we look forward to a meaningful collaborative relationship.”

Philippe Cochet, senior vice president of Alstom Power’s Wind and Hydro business divisions says he also looks forward to the collaboration, as it indicates their commitment to developing the wind industry in North America.

The National Wind Resource Center (NWRC), established by Texas Tech University, will serve as the research center for the initiative with support from many of the nation’s leading research universities, each utilizing its unique areas of expertise within the renewable-energy sector. The consortium also includes several nationally recognized workforce-development leaders.

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