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Colorado State University today announced plans to convert its entire Fort Collins campus energy use to 100 percent wind power.
The university, already a worldwide leader in developing and disseminating clean and renewable energy solutions, has committed to developing the CSU Green Power Project, a wind farm in northern Colorado that will generate more power than the university consumes. The project – to be completed within eight years – will also serve as a unique outdoor laboratory for researchers across campus in areas ranging from clean energy technology development to a variety of related environmental impact studies.
The Colorado State University Research Foundation or CSURF, the private, non-profit advocacy arm of the university, recently finalized a deal with Wind Holding LLC to develop the facility on the university’s 11,000-acre Maxwell Ranch near the Wyoming border.
The wind farm furthers the university’s dedication to practicing, researching and developing clean-energy solutions and environmental stewardship. It also provides unsurpassed opportunities to study both energy systems and environmental systems that encompass a variety of university departments and societal interests.
"The Colorado State University Green Power Project is just another step in the university’s overall goal to develop reliable and ecologically sound energy alternatives to fossil fuels and to continue groundbreaking research in this area," said Colorado State President Larry Edward Penley. "Colorado State is a leader in global renewable energy solutions, whether that involves running our snowplows on biofuels or installing clean-burning, electricity-generating cookstoves in the underdeveloped world."
For decades, the university has taken steps to reduce its environmental impact, converting heavy equipment and snowplows to run on biofuels, increasing recycling efforts 23 percent in the past three years and decreasing water use 17 percent despite increases in building square footage and student enrollment. In 2001, Colorado State also joined the Talloires Declaration – a pact signed by more than 300 higher education institutions in a global commitment to incorporate sustainability and environmental literacy. In 2004, as a result of student efforts, Colorado State became one of the first universities in the nation to offer residence hall and university apartment students the option to purchase wind power. For more information about the university’s many on-campus green efforts, visit the Web at www.fm.colostate.edu/sustain.
In the research arena, Colorado State is internationally recognized for developing clean energy solutions such as alternative fuels, clean engines, photovoltaic or solar-powered devices, smart electric power grids and wind and water resources. More detailed information about these research efforts is at http://welcome.colostate.edu/index.asp?url=media_green_power.
Wind Holding LLC has two years to begin construction and up to eight years to complete the CSU Green Power Project, which would include a minimum of 65 megawatts or about 25 wind turbines with the potential of up to 200 megawatts. At peak demand, Colorado State currently uses about 16 megawatts of power.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity for a private sector wind power company to combine its years of practical expertise with the world-class green energy research capabilities of Colorado State University," said Bruce Morley, CEO of Wind Holding LLC. "This synergy could result in a quantum technology advance in developing solutions for a pressing domestic energy challenge."
For next steps, representatives of Wind Holding plan to:
-tap the numerous wildlife and environmental experts at Colorado State to address environmental questions as part of the process of building the wind farm;
-work with Colorado State and outside experts regarding the aesthetics of the wind turbines with careful site planning;
-solicit input from residents in the area and the general public about the project;
-demonstrate the financial benefits for typical ranching operations that enhance and stabilize their agricultural revenues through farming the wind;
-seek to offer other area landowners the opportunity to also host wind turbines on their property as a way of supplementing rural or ranching income.
In addition to its environmental benefits, the wind farm will provide researchers and students from across the university – departments such as atmospheric science, mechanical engineering, construction management, economics and wildlife biology – with an unprecedented opportunity to conduct cutting-edge wind systems and environmental sciences research at the large-scale outdoor laboratory, said Tony Frank, provost and senior vice president. Since the CSU Green Power Project will generate more wind power than the electrical needs of campus, it could produce up to an additional $30 million in revenue for the university over the life of the project, which is about 25 years. In addition, Colorado State can become a net exporter of green power.
"This wind farm will be an incredible addition to our commitment to research and discovery as well as teaching and learning," Frank said. "The university is already a leader in developing renewable energy solutions that address health and environmental concerns around the world."
"By powering the university with wind and opening its wind farm to university students and researchers, Colorado State is demonstrating a commitment to developing renewable energy technologies that can provide our nation with secure and clean domestic sources of energy," said Stan Bull, associate director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
Other examples of Colorado State’s commitment to clean energy:
-Penley this year formed a new committee on sustainability and the environment to coordinate university activities such as construction, administrative initiatives, curricular changes and research. The committee recommends actions to the President’s Cabinet and connects ideas with other groups.
-In 2004, Colorado State became one of the first universities in the nation to offer residence hall and university apartment students the option to purchase wind power. Each student who signs up for wind power offsets 930 pounds of carbon dioxide. A small fee represents the cost difference between wind power and standard coal-fired electricity. Wind power costs $17 a year for residence hall students and $26 per semester for university apartment residents. A record 350 students elected to purchase wind power this year. In 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Colorado State’s Housing and Dining Services as an EPA Green Power Partner because of its significant student participation.
-In February, the university signed an agreement with the other research universities in the state and NREL to promote and develop clean energy solutions through the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory. That partnership led to the creation of the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, a cooperative research and educational center that will investigate conversion of biomass to fuels and products.
-Through the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, the university is working with Solix Biofuels, a startup firm, to commercialize technology that can cheaply mass produce oil derived from algae and turn it into biodiesel – an environmentally friendly solution to high gas prices and volatile global energy markets. The engines lab concentrates on finding clean-burning, efficient solutions in the areas of transportation, air quality, indoor air quality, village energy systems and distributed energy. The lab has spun off numerous companies and built partnerships to develop that technology for distribution on a global scale – one of the reasons northern Colorado is a statewide leader in the development of clean and renewable energy solutions.