NAU and partners bond with the wind

wind turbines

A collaboration focused on harnessing wind energy will launch in May, with support from Northern Arizona University, Utah Clean Energy and Interwest Energy Alliance.

The Four Corners Wind Energy Regional Resource Center, one of six recently established by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is designed to increase wind literacy and provide support to regional policymakers engaged in decisions about the future of wind energy in the West.

NAU’s Institute for Sustainable Energy Solutions will play a key role in outreach, education, consultation and delivery of research.

NAU’s role in the project will focus on initiatives with Arizona’s state, county and tribal decision-makers targeting areas that have the most promise for wind energy development.

“This resource center supports our university effort to be a solid, reliable partner in our community and the state,” said Karin Wadsack, project director for the Institute for Sustainable Energy Solutions. “It will allow the wind research and outreach initiatives at NAU to make a greater contribution to wind development in the Southwest.”

Wind energy development in the Western United States has steadily increased over the past 10 years and provides numerous economic benefits to local communities, Wadsack said. The wind resource centers will better connect NAU with partners in the wind industry and national laboratories to identify gaps in knowledge and collaborate on research.

Dominique Bain, doctoral candidate in earth sciences and environmental sustainability, will focus her dissertation on performing production cost modeling of electricity systems across the West to identify the best grid integration practices that can decrease the cost of using renewables like wind.

“Being a part of this center will allow the work we’re doing to have an even greater impact,” Bain said. “Grid integration is an area of research that has huge implications that we just don’t think about.”