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Feasibility of Wind & Solar Energy Systems for Large Geographic Domains

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Julie-Anne Hogbin.

The importance of weather driven renewable energies for the United States’ and the world’s energy portfolio is growing. The main perceived problems with weather-driven renewable energies are their intermittent nature, low power density, and high costs. In 2009 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) began a large-scale investigation into the characteristics of weather-driven renewables. This study shows that the costs and carbon emissions from an optimally designed national system decrease with geographic size. It shows that with achievable estimates of wind and solar generation costs, that the US could decrease its carbon emissions by up to 80% by the early 2030s, without an increase in electric costs. Similar results were found for Europe, China, and Australia; that large geographic areas reduce costs and increase carbon mitigation. The infrastructure created by such a system would enable reductions in carbon emissions from all other sectors, particularly transportation and industry.

Dr Christopher Clack is the technical lead in the reseach team. The goal is to determine at what level the United States can support itself on renewable energy sources, and where to place these sources, to provide the least expensive, most efficient generation system with the smallest possible environmental impact. The research team created a simulation tool that uses linear programming to optimize the blend of wind, solar, and natural gas (and other conventional sources) for an optimal cost. Dr Clack received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics and plasma physics from the University of Sheffield.

  • Free to attend
  • No need to book
  • Sustainable lunch provided

This talk is part of the Global Sustainability Institute Seminars & Events series.

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