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Taking the lead on renewable energy research

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced Jan. 26 an agreement whereby the University of Louisville will operate Kentucky’s Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship.

Press conference

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced Jan. 26 an agreement whereby the University of Louisville will operate Kentucky’s Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship.

The governor and UofL President James Ramsey also announced that the largest private donation to UofL or any public Kentucky university will support the center’s work. UofL engineering and business alumnus Henry Conn and his wife, Rebecca, (inset in photo above) have pledged more than $20 million to Speed School of Engineering for that purpose. The center will be named the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research and Environmental Stewardship in their honor. See related story in "Philanthropy Counts."

The Kentucky General Assembly created the center in 2006 to provide leadership, research, support and policy development in renewable energy. A governor-appointed board will set priorities for renewable energy research.

UofL has expertise to address the use of wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass resources; energy storage; and the logistics and distribution challenges for new energy sources, Speed Dean Mickey Wilhelm said.

The center’s mission will include promoting partnerships among the state’s colleges and universities, private industry and nonprofit organizations to actively pursue federal research and development resources that are dedicated to renewable energy.

"As the primary sponsor of legislation that created the center, I am incredibly pleased to have UofL take the lead on research launching Kentucky to the national forefront of renewable energy and environmental stewardship," said State Rep. Rocky Adkins, speaking from the podium in the above photo. "The General Assmebly passed comprehensive energy policies that made Kentucky ready to meet the Conns’ vision, and I have no doubt UofL will deliver on the expectations of the governor, General Assembly and the Conns for innovation and job creation to benefit every Kentuckian." UofL researchers already are working on several renewable energy and environmental projects that would be brought into the center. For example, chemical engineering professor Mahendra Sunkara’s Institute for Advanced Materials and Renewable Energy at UofL is working on ways to convert heat into electricity, sunlight into energy and to use light in converting water into hydrogen.

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