Renewable Energy @ UI

UI campus coal-free by 2025

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld announced Feb. 20, 2017 that the University of Iowa campus will be coal-free by 2025. Read the announcement.

path to zero coal


Zero Coal Timeline

UI Biomass Portfolio

The types of biomass currently being used at the University of Iowa inlcude oat hulls, energy pellets, Miscanthus grass, and wood chips. Benefits of biomass.

Oat HullsOat Hulls

Introduced in 2003, this public-private collaboration created a new market for this oat hull by-product . Over the first 10 years of use, oat hulls displaced 183,000 tons of coal and generated approximately $7.6M in savings.
Looking ahead:
Maintain stable supply.

Wood ChipsWoody Biomass
The UI consumes approximately 2,200 tons annually from used pallets. We continue to evaluate and test urban wood waste including Emerald Ash Borer trees and ongoing routine timber management.
Looking ahead: Potential micro-chipper pilot project with City of Iowa City to process EAB trees.

Miscanthus Grass Energy Grass

The University of Iowa is growing its own energy in the form of Miscanthus grass and is on track to plant 2,500 acres to produce 22,500 tons of sustainable and renewable fuel for the campus annually. In partnerhip with Iowa State University and the Eastern Iowa Airport, the UI aims to create and promote a dedicated energy crop alternative to traditional row cropping to provide a stable income to Iowa's farmers.
Looking ahead: Increase bulk density to reduce cost of storage and trucking, conduct trials to blend miscanthus with energy pellets, continue land acquisition to reach target.

Energy PelletsEnergy Pellets

These manufacturing by-products are non-recyclable and divert waste from the landfill, and result in approximately 60% improvement in CO2 emissions vs. coal.. Pellets can be blended with Miscanthus or other biomass and used as fuel stock.
Looking ahead:
Ramp up use of pellets, attract pellet suppliers to locate in eastern Iowa, develop a miscanthus-blend pellet.

progress Toward Goal

  • Coal consumption down 50% since 2010.
  • By 2020, coal expected to be 10% of fuel mix
  • Greenhouse gas emissions have been reduced by 17% (2015 to 2016)

Fuel Mix

Long-term Biomass Strategy

Industry-leading Innovation

  • UI Power Plant continues to innovate
  • Partner with academic and industry experts
  • Develop Pilot Plant for pelleting, self-powered by landfill gas

Supply Chain Diversity and Reliability

  • Balance risk profiles and timing of production
  • Long-term supply agreements to ensure stability
  • Improve UI's energy security through multi-fuel strategy

Maximize economic benefit to Iowa

  • Re-direct $10M of out-of-state fuel spend to Iowa suppliers and growers
  • Create local densification facilities = construction and permanent jobs, property taxes to community

Conservative approach

  • Highly selective approach to fuels
    • Minimize cost, risk to Iowa taxpayers
    • Safeguard community support



"Scaling up on Biomass, The Path to Zero Coal" PowerPoint Presentation, 11/2017
Miscanthus Green Energy Field (flyer .pdf)


Biomass Partners

Academic Collaboration

additional information


For more information, contact the UI Biomass Program:
Erin Hazen
Renewable Energy Business Development Manager