Letter from the Director

WEI summer James Runde

At the Wisconsin Energy Institute, 2018 marked an exciting year of transition and change. Thanks to the tireless efforts of our supporters both inside and outside of the institute, we are thrilled to have a new administrative home on campus in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. With renewed institutional support and leadership, we are well positioned to uphold our commitment to discovery, collaborative engagement, training, and technology deployment in service of a clean energy future. WEI is proud to be a leader in “Energizing the Wisconsin Idea” — creating knowledge and experts that can benefit the citizens and companies of our state.

Tim Donohue WEI Interim Director Tim Donohue

This year was also a time of new beginnings for Great Lakes Bioenergy, which in November completed the first of five years of funding under a new Department of Energy award. Both WEI and GLBRC have welcomed several new personnel, projects, and research activities into the building and into our network of collaborators and affiliates throughout campus and beyond.

It is an exciting time to be working at the cusp of a transforming energy economy. The economic case for moving to clean energy sources has never been stronger. According to a recent study from the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, transitioning away from fossil fuels toward in-state renewable energy resources and greater energy efficiency has the potential to create 162,000 Wisconsin jobs, reduce state energy expenditures by half a billion dollars annually, and produce social, health, and environmental benefits valued at $25 billion.

WEI is ready to be part of that path forward. Our research continues to drive new innovations in sustainable and affordable energy systems, while our connections with industry are paving ways to move those technologies and advances into the marketplace to improve the lives and wellbeing of people around the world. We are working to strengthen the state’s bioeconomy and create meaningful change at a time when we are seeing increasingly broad support for renewables, renewed interest in clean energy and job creation at the state level, and strong investment in clean energy technology from both the federal government and the private sector.

It is an exciting time to be working at the cusp of a transforming energy economy.

Tim Donohue

At the same time, we are building the next generation of energy experts through our education and outreach programs. In addition to an undergraduate certificate in engineering for energy sustainability, students at UW–Madison can now complete a graduate certificate or Ph.D. minor in energy analysis and policy, which provides the skills and insight that today’s students need to become tomorrow’s energy leaders in industry, academia, and government. Outside of the classroom, we continue to support student innovation and real-world problem solving in our laboratories and through participation in events such as the Department of Energy’s Collegiate Wind Competition.

We are proud of what we’ve accomplished, on campus and throughout the state. Our year of progress has laid a solid foundation for us to continue to foster collaborative and multi-disciplinary research and drive the conversations that will help turn ideas into policies and solutions. I look forward to a bright future for WEI as we embark upon a new year of moving forward, together, in energy.