Wind, Solar, and Geothermal Power: Are They the Answer?

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The Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems welcomes Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jay Apt, who will lead a presentation on renewable energy systems as part of the Institute's Sustainability Speaker Series.

The discussion about renewable electricity has recently benefited from a scarce commodity: data. Using high and moderate time resolution data from wind and solar plants, we have recently been able to employ the power spectral density of the output of wind turbines and solar plants to provide information on the character of fluctuations in power output. Using the measured variations and moderate time resolution emissions data from natural gas generators as they ramp up and down, we can estimate additional air emissions from these generators caused by wind and solar. Analyzing the interconnected measured output of 20 wind plants in Texas, we have quantified the reduction in variability from interconnection, and have determined the additional cost of compensating for the variability. For enhanced geothermal power, we have examined the location-specific risk of annoying residents with induced earthquakes, and made recommendations for a process to site such plants.

Speaker Bio:
Jay Apt is a professor of technology at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, and holds additional appointments in CMU’s Engineering and Public Policy Department. He is also the executive director of the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center. Apt served NASA as an astronaut on four Space Shuttle missions, as the chief of the Mission Support Branch, and as flight controller in the Mission Control Center. Previously he held appointments at Cal Tech, Harvard, and MIT. Apt earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard and a doctorate in experimental atomic physics from MIT.


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