Renewable energy holds great potential; energy sources such as wind, sun, biofuels and biomass promise a significant boost to our economy while promoting an energy alternative that minimizes our impact on the environment. The primary goal of the Renewable Energy program at the West Central Research and Outreach Center (WCROC) is to increase utilization of renewable energy in production agriculture and support further development of agriculture-based renewable energy for the region, state, and nation through research and outreach.
Production agriculture's consumption of fossil-fuel carries significant economic, environmental, and ecological risks. The Renewable Energy program is working to mitigate these risks and exploit opportunities for agricultural producers and other stakeholders by means of researching energy systems for:
Research is conducted on several types of large and small-scale renewable energy systems at the WCROC. Systems located on-site include a 1.65 MW wind turbine, solar thermal systems for domestic hot water and space cooling and heating, a geothermal system, and a renewable hydrogen and ammonia pilot plant. The WCROC also conducts biomass energy research utilizing the biomass gasification combined heat and power system located at the University of Minnesota, Morris campus.
One aspect of our research includes a Life Cycle Assessment of these energy systems, as well as agriculture production systems.
The wind, solar and geothermal energy systems installed at the WCROC are practical production systems that also provide research and demonstration opportunities. WCROC researchers experience first-hand issues with renewable energy, and seek solutions to break down technical and economic barriers.
Michael Reese, Director, Renewable Energy
Eric Buchanan, Scientist, Solar Energy
Joel Tallaksen, Scientist, BioMass
Rob Gardner, Assistant Professor
Cory Marquart, Jr. Scientist
Fertilizer from the Wind, as featured on the BigTen Network, January 2014
Projects (past and present)
Request a Tour of WCROC Renewable Energy systems, by contacting the Renewable Energy Director