Frostburg State University’s Renewable Energy Center has been awarded an $856,350 appropriation from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund the final steps in the establishment of its Sustainable Energy Research Facility (SERF), a green, self-sufficient, off-the-grid building designed for educational research on renewable energy in the Appalachian region.
Obtained with the assistance of Maryland Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-6th), who also helped secure the initial funding for the construction of the building, this money will make it possible to purchase research equipment and computer hardware and software, as well as to employ researchers and student assistants.
“Faculty and students will be using the new SERF facility to expand FSU’s leadership role in the Appalachian region for research, development, implementation and training in renewable energy technologies and sustainable living,” said Congressman Bartlett. “America’s grid, while an efficient and cost-effective distributor of electricity, is also remarkably vulnerable to natural disaster or deliberate attack. Residents and small businesses will benefit from SERF’s work to develop alternative, renewable, local sources of energy and technologies to provide enough electricity for a small facility to operate independent of the grid.”
“We are very grateful to Congressman Bartlett for his invaluable assistance in obtaining this funding,” said FSU President Jonathan Gibralter. “He is a lifelong advocate of renewable sources of energy. He is an inspiration for all generations on this issue.“
“Congressman Bartlett has always supported our renewable energy activities,” said Dr. Oguz Soysal and Hilkat Soysal, co-directors of FSU’s SERF project.
SERF, a residential-size green building completely supplied by various renewable energy sources, will be built in the Allegany Business Center at FSU, close to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences Appalachian Laboratory. The building will be completely functional in fall 2010 and accommodate the FSU Renewable Energy Center to conduct research, education and outreach programs.
The research planned at SERF will study the effectiveness of sustainable energy resources in Appalachia. Using sensors to record wind and solar energy data at numerous locations, the data will be collected at SERF for processing and analysis, used to model, design and control integrated renewable energy supply systems. The ultimate goal will be to develop a knowledge-base for renewable and clean energy resources available in the region.
“Frostburg State University is perfectly located for this and other new energy research projects, with the state’s broadest access to renewable energy resources,” said Stephen Spahr, FSU vice president for Economic Development and Government Relations. “With the work being done here on renewable energy and other new energy resources, like the research into the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserves, FSU is positioning the region as a center for energy for the future.”
SERF will accommodate the FSU Renewable Energy Center to conduct extended research, education and community outreach programs on renewable energy applications developed by FSU faculty and their project partners. The facility will also serve as an example of a self-sufficient off-grid building for individuals such as homeowners, farmers or entrepreneurs who seek energy security in Western Maryland or similar geographic locations.
“The new funding secured by Congressman Bartlett will make it possible to purchase cutting-edge equipment and employ distinguished researchers to conduct renewable energy projects in SERF,” said the Soysals, both faculty in the Department of Physics and Engineering. “The design team is currently completing the architectural plans. Construction will start this spring and the building will be completed in fall 2010.”
The grant is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory located at Morgantown, W.Va. The total budget for this phase of the project is $1.3 million, with about $455,000 coming from various other sources.
To learn more about SERF and FSU’s ongoing projects involving renewable energy, visit www.frostburg.edu/renewable or contact the Soysals at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 13 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland.