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Last May, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced it is seeking partners to build a new research and development facility capable of testing blades up to 70 meters long. According to Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, Texas will bid for the building.

The University of Houston will submit the bid to the Department of Energy (DOE). The Cullen College of Engineering at the university, along with Good Company Associates, an Austin, Texas-based business development, advocacy and consulting company, are coordinating the coalition of academic personnel, industry leaders and the public. The coalition includes the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University, West Texas A&M University, the Houston Advanced Research Center, the State Energy Conservation Office, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, the Texas Workforce Commission, Governor Rick Perrys Emerging Technology Fund and the Wind Coalition.

According to the coalition, Texas best fits the DOE's requirements for the new facility, since the state has the deep-water ports, strong gulf winds, industrial know-how and political will to make its coast the ideal site. Research from the university reports that the state could generate as much as 10 GW of offshore wind energy. Patterson adds that "the only hard part will be deciding where along the coast to place it."

"Texas is now the largest producer of wind energy in the United States and is on the path to be the U.S. leader in offshore wind development," says Ray Flumerfelt, dean of the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering. "We believe we will submit a formidable proposal to the Department of Energy that will ultimately result in a world-class facility being built in Texas as soon as 2008."

If the test facility is, in fact, installed in Texas, it would greatly benefit the state as well. "This test facility will be a magnet for research and manufacturing," comments Patterson. "It will establish Texas as a worldwide leader in wind power for the next 100 years. It is a vital race. It is a race Texas will win."


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