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Published: Monday, 4/14/2008

University of Toledo planning a renewable energy center

BY MEGHAN GILBERT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Long recognized for its work in renewable energy, the University of Toledo now plans to establish a center dedicated solely to its research and commercialization.

A proposal for a new Center for Advanced Renewable Energy will go before the UT Board of Trustees today for its endorsement and support.

"Right now there [are] a lot of universities placing a flag in the ground around advanced renewable energy and using that as ways to attract resources and attract business and develop a position," said Frank Calzonetti, UT vice president for research development. "Our thinking is, 'We've already done this, we've proven our success, and we want to have that recognized.'•"

The center won't be a physical building at first. The idea is to coordinate all that's being done in the areas of alternative energy and have a single go-to place, Mr. Calzonetti said.

Where it will be and how it will be administrated will be worked out after approval from the trustees, he said.

The university houses the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization, has a Clean and Alternative Energy Incubation Center, and is home to the offices of the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio.

The university has added two internationally renowned faculty members to expand its expertise in photovoltaics, or solar energy technology.

Michael Heben has been appointed the Wright Center for Innovation endowed chair in photovoltaics. He is a principal scientist and team leader of the Nanostructured Materials Group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Randall Ellingson, a senior scientist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will join UT's Department of Physics and Astronomy as an associate professor.

Both start in August.

UT has several grant-funded research projects in advanced renewable energy beyond its well-known solar energy work, Mr. Calzonetti said.

It is looking into fuel cells, biomass, electricity management, energy storage, and wind power, he said.

UT President Lloyd Jacobs said the university's experience in solar energy goes back some 20 years before alternative energy really hit the national spotlight and it's important to continue to develop that niche market. "The most important message is not this small step forward, the most important message is this university and this corner of the world are the [renewable energy] intellectual powerhouse for this country and maybe the world," he said.



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