The creation of the power station

Combining two sustainable sources of energy that will reduce carbon emissions and provide a renewable-energy teaching and research facility means what for the University of Northern Iowa?

Wind-solar hybrid power station erected on UNI's campus.A wind-solar hybrid power station. Recently completed next to the Industrial Technology Center, south of University Avenue in Cedar Falls, the 12-kilowatt wind-solar hybrid power station generates electricity for limited use.

The hybrid 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.

UNI's electrical engineering technology (EET) department was recently accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET), Technology Accreditation Commission. The wind-solar hybrid power project and other renewable energy projects were important criteria in ABET's accreditation reviews.

Reg Pecen, professor of industrial technology, and Hong "Jeff" Nie, assistant professor of industrial technology, teach in the department's electrical engineering technology (EET) program; they designed and built the power station. With supervision from Jeff Rose, program coordinator of UNI's Materials Testing Service, EET students Paul Johnson, Sultan Altamimi, Mac Russett, Aaron Spiess and Keith Dahl were actively involved in welding for the solar portion of the power station. 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.Workers piece together the power station, which will generate electricity for limited use on UNI's campus.

"Iowa is a wonderful state for wind-solar hybrid projects," explained Pecen. "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."

Steel photovoltaic frames were designed and built in the production lab of the Industrial Technology Center. Pecen said, "We tried to keep costs as low as possible and at the same time provide valuable experience for our students."

The hybrid power station comes with many advantages.

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 STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) teachers and local farmers who are interested in establishing small-scale wind-solar power systems.

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.

"We would like to prove that wind-solar hybrid power systems work well for helping Iowa's very valuable energy independence efforts," said Pecen.

The purple and gold wind-solar hybrid power station generates electricity and Panther spirit.

Above: The purple and gold wind-solar hybrid power station, located next to the Industrial Technology Center, will bring together two sustainable sources of energy that will reduce carbon emissions and provide a renewable energy teaching and research facility.