University Relations and Marketing

Contacts:
John Cech, MSUB College of Technology, 406-247-3009
Eakle Barfield, Director, MSUB Facility Services, 406-657-2309
Rhyno Stinchfield, GreenWorld Partners, 406-651-8898
Dan Carter, MSUB University Relations, 406-657-2269

September 3, 2010

MSU Billings, Greenworld partners break ground on state-of-the-art wind turbine at COT

Project supports education, employment in renewable energy field

sketch of wind turbine

A 10-kW vertical axis wind turbine like those in this sketch above will soon be located at the MSU Billings College of Technology.

Chancellor Rolf Groseth speaks at the ground-breaking ceremony for the wind turbineMSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — A state-of-the-art vertical axis wind turbine will soon be the newest learning tool for faculty and students at the Montana State University Billings College of Technology thanks to a partnership between the university, a local renewable/sustainable energy consulting company and a Japanese technology firm.

Ground was broken today (Friday, Sept. 3) for what will be a 42-foot, 10-kilowatt wind turbine. The turbine, designed by Taisei Techno Co. of Japan, will be used by faculty and students the MSU Billings College of Technology who will enroll in the new Sustainable Energy Technology program.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our students,” said John Cech, dean of the MSU Billings COT. “Having this equipment there is equivalent to having a modular home available for our construction trades students.”

Cech said faculty and students will be able to get hands-on experience with cutting edge sustainable energy technology. The wind turbine will be just one of the facets of the new Sustainable Energy Technology program, but will be the most visible.

“I think they’ll have a lot of fun with it,” Cech said.

Dr. Rolf Groseth, interim chancellor at MSU Billings, said the project shows commitment to hands-on renewable and sustainable energy education, not only at MSU Billings, but throughout the MSU system. The new Sustainable Energy Program is also running at MSU Northern in Havre and at the MSU Great Falls College of Technology.

The wind turbine will go up in stages over the next three months, said Rhyno Stinchfield, president of GreenWorld Partners, a Billings-based renewable energy company. Stinchfield is the U.S. agent for Taisei Techno, which manufactures vertical axis wind turbines and is introducing its technology to the U.S. market. The turbine will eventually be a donation to the university for research and education purposes. The donation is valued at more than $100,000.

Joe Krenzer, president of the student-led Environmental Awareness Club at MSU Billings, said he was impressed with the steps the university has taken to make all the campuses more energy efficient and sustainable. Two years ago students pushed for a recycling program and are working with administrators on other energy-related projects.

“It (the focus on sustainability) has increased ten-fold in the past couple of years,” Krenzer said.

After Friday’s initial ground-breaking, a tower and wind monitor will be placed on the site to get accurate wind direction and strength readings. Roscoe Steel, meanwhile, will be contracted to build the frame for the wind turbine.

Stinchfield will also talk about the project at Sen. Max Baucus’ Montana Economic Development Summit scheduled for Sept. 13-14 in Butte.  

Located between the COT and the nearby School District 2 Career Center, students from both institutions will eventually be doing work related to the information gathered from the wind turbine.

The 10-kW unit will be tied into the COT’s Technology Trades Building and is expected to produce electricity equivalent to the needs for two or three classrooms.

Wind energy in that area should not be a problem. Cech said the COT campus on Billings’ West End gets regular winds in the spring and summer and winter Chinooks can generate winds up to 60 mph.

A study by Harvard University verifies his anecdotal evidence. The study, released last summer, said Montana and Kansas are second only to Texas for having the greatest potential in the nation for wind power. The report shows Montana so rich in wind that it has the potential to produce 4,700 terawatt hours of wind-generated electricity, about 370 times the state's current total retail electricity sales.

Stinchfield, who has over 30 years of experience in the renewable/sustainable energy fields, said that Taisei wants to help get wind technology education off the ground and will work with the COT students and faculty on the project. The company also has committed to a nationally recognized certification program offered by the Small Wind Certification Council.  This council tests wind turbines to insure that the manufacturers are publishing accurate information about the specifications and electrical output of their units.

Taisei has been dedicated for more than 50 years to railway technology and is well known for its high-tech products for railway systems, including Shinkansen (the Japanese bullet train). Taisei has been determined to develop ecologically friendly products centered on its unique vertical-axis wind turbine and the contract with MSU Billings is part of its commitment to North America market.

Eventually Taisei plans on developing several other sized mid-size turbines for urban, agricultural, commercial and institutional sectors, Stinchfield said.

He noted that this project will also have local economic development implications. The following local firms will be used for the project:

  • Krivonen Engineering – turbine structural and foundation design
  • Roscoe Steel – structural steel components
  • CEI Electric – construction/installation of the Taisei Turbine

Find out more about GreenWorld Partners at www.greenworldpartners.com.

Find out more about Taisei Techno Co., Inc., at www.taiseix.net/en_news/index.html.

PHOTO ABOVE: Dr. Rolf Groseth, interim chancellor at Montana State University Billings, talks about the learning opportunities of a new wind turbine at the MSU Billings College of Technology. Behind Groseth is Joe Krenzer, president of the Environmental Awareness Club at MSU Billings, which has worked with administrators on establishing sustainability programs at the university.


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