Renewable Development Fund Grants
IonE was awarded a block grant of $3 million (spread over three years) from Xcel Energy’s Renewable Development Fund to support the following aims:
- Increase the market penetration within the state of renewable electric energy resources at reasonable costs
- Promote the start-up, expansion and attraction of renewable electric energy projects and companies within the state
- Stimulate research and development within the state into renewable electric energy technologies
- Develop near-commercial and demonstration scale renewable electric projects or near-commercial and demonstration scale electric infrastructure delivery projects if those delivery projects enhance the delivery of renewable electric energy.
The pre-proposal stage concluded November 23, 2015, with the receipt of 23 letters of intent from University faculty and research associates from the Duluth, Morris and Twin Cities campuses. Pre-proposals included interdisciplinary collaborations involving the College of Science and Engineering; College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; Law School; Humphrey School of Public Affairs; and Carlson School of Management, to name a few. They covered the following technology categories: 1) photovoltaic generation, 2) thermal generation, 3) electric energy storage, 4) alternative biofuel research, 5) hydropower electric generation, 6) wind-based generation, and 7) power electronics, power systems and transmission of electricity research.
Apart from potential proposals involving collaborations across campuses, IonE also welcomed submissions from the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, West and North Central research and outreach centers and the Natural Resources Research Institute, among others.
Principal researchers were invited to submit a full proposal by January 11, 2016. An external panel of reviewers will examine these proposals and decisions on the grant allocation were made in the spring of 2016. The succeeding years (2017 and 2018) of the RDF fourth funding cycle will be limited to the possible renewal of grants for the projects selected in 2016.