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Expo held at Staples

The second annual Ag and Energy Expo was held Friday, Feb.
24 at the Staples campus of Central Lakes College. After greetings from Mike
Palmer, vice president of the co-sponsoring Mid-Central Federal Saving Bank,
and Bob Rick, farm business management instructor at CLC, featured presenter
Mike Reese presented “Producing Nitrogen Fertilizer from Wind.” Reese, director of Renewable Energy at the
University of Minnesota-Morris, discussed a $3.75 million carbon-free system built at Morris that uses wind power
from a towering turbine to produce anhydrous ammonia, a common nitrogen-based
fertilizer. “It’s a perfect supply-and-demand match, as the region has no shortage
of wind and U.S. farmers use millions of tons of fertilizer,” said Reese.

The plant produces fertilizer for use on university farm land. But
those working on the project say a similar system in which fertilizer is
produced and sold nearby could contribute to the local economy. It also would take advantage of the region’s
wind potential while skirting that industry’s main hurdle of needing expensive
transmission lines to ship electricity to urban areas that need it, Reese said.
Others presenting at the free event were Joel
Tallakson, assistant scientist at the University of Minnesota, on Biomass Crops
and Gasification Technology; Greg Padden of Great River Energy; Kari Howe of
DEED on Renewable Energy Funding; John Ihle of PlainStates Energy on “Local
Wind – Hewitt Wind Turbine; Tom Schulz on Solar Power/Home Energy/Gasification Boiler;
Angela Headlee of CERTS on the Rural Minnesota Solar Initiative; Dave Winkelman
of WERC on Making Small Wind Work; representatives from West Central Telephone
Ass’n. on Photo Voltaic, Solar & Wind; and SarTec/Ag and Energy Center on
Opportunities in Energy Crops.

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