During the award speech, ACOREâEUR(TM)s Olf congratulated UMM on the work that led up to the launch of its biomass facility, saying that it âEURoerepresents the highest level of commitment that our institutions of higher education can make to renewable energy.âEUR She added that, âEURoeBy engaging in renewable energy research, the academic community--and an amazing generation of students--are making a significant and positive impact.âEUR
The UMM biomass gasification facility will provide energy to the campus whichis both clean and renewable, replacing much of the power formerly supplied by fossil fuels. The biomass gasification reactor will burn 9,000 tonnes of biomass annually, converting agricultural products and residue, such as corn stover and prairie grasses, into syngas for energy production. Beyond energy production, the facility will also pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy through the purchase of these fuel sources, while also creating economic and "green collar" employment opportunities for the west central region of Minnesota.
In addition to providing economic opportunities for the rural community, the biomass plant will also help UMM move closer to its goal of energy self-sufficiency and carbon neutrality, or even âEURoecarbon negativity,âEUR according to Rasmussen, by 2010. Olf told attendees that ACOREâEUR(TM)s goal is to promote comparable efforts by all US colleges and universities, challenging each other in both teaching about and transitioning to renewable energy sources. "When that kind of competition happens, we all win," she said.
UMM has been an ACORE member since 2006 and Vice Chancellor Rasmussen is a Founding Steering Committee member of ACOREâEUR(TM)s Higher Education Committee on Renewable Energy. During the dedication, Rasmussen credited ACORE as âEURoean early champion for the use of renewable energyâEUR and said that âEURoethe University of Minnesota-Morris is proud to be associated with such a visionary organization."
The new biomass facility was cited by UMN Chancellor Jacqueline Johnson as an exemplary model of not only a green renewable energy source, but also as a community-based energy system. Referencing the uniqueness of the UniversityâEUR(TM)s approach to implementing renewable energy and the shared commitment of the universityâEUR(TM)s student body, Johnson said, âEURoeNo other school is putting things together quite the way we are. We have a lot to be proud of.âEUR
A speech by Patrick Chester, President of the Morris Campus Student Association, noted that this one-of-a-kind biomass plant offers opportunities for students to experience first-hand how renewable energy can be put to use in society. âEURoeThe biomass plant is perfect for our University,âEUR said Chester. "It is a project that was pushed for by students and shows our common desire to preserve our environment, while offering research opportunities to students that they will not find anywhere else.âEUR
Funding and support to build the facility came from a variety of government and non-government sources. The project also received one of only 12 energy grants from the United States Department of Agriculture and Energy âEUR" in the amount of $1.89 million âEUR" to conduct additional research at the plant. The grant enables UMM and the West Central Research and Outreach Center to partner with the USDA Agricultural Research Service to conduct further research on carbon sequestration.
Other speakers at the dedication included Mayor Sheldon Giese, State Representatives Torrey Westrom and Al Juhnke, and Regent John Frobenius. Representatives from the offices of Senators Norm Coleman and Amy Klobucharr and Representative Collin Peterson also delivered messages on their behalf.
Watch a video about the new plant here (video produced by the University of Minnesota)