Case Western Reserve University wants to head up research for the proposed wind-energy center, which would feature wind turbines on Lake Erie.
As part of its proposal to run the research center, the university has offered $200,000 toward an $800,000 study of a local task force’s bold vision – up to 10 wind turbines in the lake and a world-class research center.
Although Case was late in entering the project, it is likely to have a “leading role” if the research center is built, said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, chairman of the Cuyahoga Regional Energy Development Task Force.
The task force’s vision is five to 10 turbines in Lake Erie by 2010, generating up to 20 megawatts of power for the city and county. That’s enough power for 6,000 homes.
The turbines would be the first in the world to be situated over fresh water. More important, their construction could spin off research and investment that would draw turbine manufacturers to Northeast Ohio.
“We could develop any new technology out of it and use it to enhance the region,” Mason said. “This is where we think Case could play a big role.”
Case’s ability to commercialize new technology and draw research money is a good fit with the wind-energy proposal, said David Matthiesen, an associate professor in Case’s department of materials science and engineering.
And the multimillion-dollar project dovetails with Case’s focus on alternative-energy research, through the university’s new Great Lakes Institute for Energy Innovation, Matthiesen said.
“This is going to create a research lab that’s really going to be unique in the whole world,” said Matthiesen, who is a member of the county’s energy task force.
The university’s offer of $200,000 came as the task force was seeking sources to pay for the study. The task force had commitments for $600,000.
Case wants to collaborate with the team that the task force selects to do the study, Matthiesen said.
But those teams are likely to have questions about Case’s involvement. The university wasn’t in the picture when the task force solicited qualified teams for the study in March.
A dozen teams and companies responded. The three finalists were told in a letter last month that their proposal should address two possibilities – Case running the research center and Case not involved at all. The proposals are due Aug. 13.
One of the three teams is led by JW Great Lakes Wind LLC, part of a company that has done wind-turbine projects in Europe and the United States.
Spokesman Bryan Starry would say only that his company “would be happy to work and negotiate with Case on their interaction with the project.”
Plain Dealer Reporter
1 August 2007
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