Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanic
224 Akerman Hall
Pete Seiler is an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics. His research focus is in the area of systems and control. Since joining the University of Minnesota in 2008, Seiler has been working on advanced control and fault detection methods with applications to wind energy and aerospace systems.
As an IonE resident fellow, Seiler will explore the engineering challenges surrounding renewable energy policy issues. Current regulatory policies allow wind farms to sell their energy as produced. This is in contrast to conventional (e.g., coal-fired) power plants, which are required to sell their energy in day-ahead and real-time spot markets. However, the variability of wind power production is beginning to cause difficulties with the operation of the power grid. Several European countries have already placed new functional requirements on wind farms to support the operation of the power grid. Longer term, it is anticipated that wind farms will participate in conventional electricity markets. This presents new challenges but also provides opportunities for inventive wind farm operators to generate higher revenues. This raises many interesting engineering questions, such as the financial benefit of local energy storage. Seiler will investigate engineering design trade-offs that arise due to new renewable policies.
As another aspect of his fellowship, Seiler plans to address the need for a skilled workforce to design and maintain reliable wind turbines. He will partner with the Mesabi Range Community and Technical College in Virginia, Minn. Mesabi Range has a two-year wind energy program that trains technicians in the operation and maintenance of utility-scale wind turbines. Seiler will work with Mesabi Range on several educational activities. The technicians educated at Mesabi Range will benefit from a deeper understanding of the control and monitoring systems they encounter in the field. Researchers and students at the University of Minnesota will benefit from understanding the issues faced by turbine technicians.