The University of Iowa’s bid to become the U.S. Department of Energy’s designated test lab for supersize wind turbines received a boost Tuesday from the Iowa Power Fund Board.
The board authorized contract negotiations with the UI on its request for a $15 million Iowa Power Fund Board grant. The grant would help build a $78 million facility called the Wind Energy National Test Institute, at the UI Research Park at Oakdale.
Iowa has plenty of competition for the federal project, which carries with it a $45 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. Other interested states include West Virginia, South Carolina, and Michigan.
In its application to the state, the UI says it has several strategic advantages. They include its location in the heart of the nation’s wind energy equipment manufacturing, the UI’s strong reputation in the field of simulation, and a bid that minimizes financial, timetable and technical risk.
The key element of the project would be a kind of wind turbine treadmill called a dynamometer. It would be constructed within a LEED certified green building, which would also house wind turbine research facilities to help advance the industry.
The facility would only create about a dozen jobs, but would be a major force in attracting wind turbine equipment manufacturers.
The turbines tested at the facility would be larger than almost any in use today.