Plans are continuing to develop for a solar energy facility west of Laramie that will serve as a research hub for students in the University of Wyoming College of Engineering.
9H Energy announced last week that it is committing $10 million in energy generation and in-kind support to UW through the facility during its lifetime.
“The research foundation is all about trying to drive innovation,” said Brendan Reilly, president of 9H Energy. “We want to innovate together.”
In October, the Albany County Board of Commissioners approved a conditional use permit for the facility, located on the 12,000-acre 9H Ranch just outside Laramie on West Curtis Street. The ranch is owned by 9H Energy co-founder and owner Gene Humphrey, a 1973 UW graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering.
UW President Ed Seidel said the partnership would give students opportunities for experiential learning while conducting interdisciplinary research in a field that impacts Wyoming.
“This will help put us at the forefront of that area of research,” he said.
The facility also fits with Gov. Mark Gordon’s new Wyoming Innovation Network initiative, which he announced in January and which aims to modernize Wyoming’s higher-education network and diversify the state’s economy.
The initiative seeks to develop collaborations with UW, community colleges and industry partners. Those collaborations, in turn, could attract industry by providing plentiful energy and a skilled workforce.
“Training in technology and engineering are areas that we think are important for us to work on for the future of the economy in the state,” Seidel said.