Thune Reviews Wind, Solar, and Biomass Energy Research

Yesterday, U.S. Senator John Thune toured the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. NREL is the nation's primary laboratory devoted to researching renewable energy.

"During my visit, I was again impressed with how much home-grown energy potential is available in the United States. NREL demonstrates on a daily basis that states such as South Dakota have the potential to lead the nation in production alternative energy," said Thune.

"NREL is aggressively researching next generation wind turbines which are larger, more powerful, and more efficient than today's turbines. NREL is also experimenting with solar power and developing concepts and solar collectors that could utilize South Dakota's abundant sunshine. And NREL is perfecting processes that will more efficiently and economically manufacture cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass, wood, and corn stover. South Dakota is or can be a leader in all of these areas of energy production."

Thune recently led an effort to organize a group of ten senators, known as the "Gang of Ten." This group has advanced a bipartisan plan to address the current energy crisis. The Gang of Ten's proposal, known as the New Energy Reform Act (New ERA Act of 2008) would promote the use of all the alternative sources of energy that NREL is researching.

Thune also announced today that the Western Area Power Association (WAPA) would release its study of wind-hydroelectric power coordination along the Missouri River next month or soon thereafter. WAPA has been working with NREL on the completion of this study.

On Monday, August 18th in Rapid City, Thune will also convene a hearing of the Senate Agriculture Committee on the subject of cellulosic ethanol. Specifically, the committee will explore the use of biomass from the Black Hills National Forest in the production of cellulosic ethanol. This is one of the sources of energy being explored by NREL.

On Thursday, August 21st in Mitchell, Thune will hold a meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer at the annual Dakotafest farm show. This meeting will focus on the development of cellulosic ethanol.