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    Department of Energy sends $150,000 grant to RUM to study impact of wind farms

    December 5, 2022 - CE Noticias Financieras


      Dr. Umberto Ciri, associate professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering (INME) at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez Campus (RUM), received a $150,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to study the effects of large-scale offshore wind farms associated with the climatic conditions of Puerto Rico.

      "The idea is to investigate the effect of offshore wind turbines on climate. We know that electricity produced by wind turbines can help eliminate fossil fuels and mitigate climate change. But wind turbines extract energy from the wind, so they in turn can have a long-term effect on atmospheric circulation, especially with the massive wind turbine deployments now being considered in various parts of the world. We want to investigate these long-term effects on the ocean and atmosphere. We seek to assess whether they are important or not; whether they change weather and climate patterns; and whether we can control them," he said.

      He explained that the urgency of the transition to renewable and sustainable energy sources has received great emphasis lately due to growing environmental concerns and limitations in the availability of conventional fossil fuels.

      He added that government agencies around the world are setting increasingly ambitious energy renewal targets, so wind power is expected to play a key role in the shift to renewables.

      "This will most likely involve large-scale installation of wind farms. We are going to study the climate impact, specifically for the Puerto Rico region. This is a critical time for the energy situation on the island. This project seeks to provide public policy decision makers and the community in general with specific data to make science-based decisions," he emphasized.

      He emphasized that the proposed work consists of developing a novel numerical framework based on a coupled ocean-atmosphere regional circulation model that explicitly includes the effects of wind turbines and wind farms in numerical weather prediction simulations.

      "We will study the changes in present-day weather conditions due to different offshore wind development scenarios, from the present-day level to an extreme scenario of 100 percent electricity from wind. The simulations will provide data, not only in terms of potential energy production from the turbines, but also of climatological impacts. For example, sea surface temperatures, ocean currents and atmospheric flows. In addition, changes in sea temperature can affect local marine ecosystems and related economic activities, such as fishing," he said.

      He added that the proposed work focuses on the tropical area of the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean Sea, and in particular the region of Puerto Rico.

      "The island has adopted one of the most aggressive energy transition policies, which includes 100 percent electricity generation from renewable sources by 2050. Puerto Rico is now at a critical juncture in the effort to modernize the grid and generation after widespread devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and a series of earthquakes in 2020. This initiative seeks to provide a high-fidelity quantification of the potential impacts of widespread offshore wind deployment on the atmosphere and ocean to enable a sustainable and effective renewable energy transformation," he said.

      "This grant is important to our lab because it will allow us to develop capabilities and establish partnerships with DOE projects. Our long-term goal is to contribute to efforts toward a sustainable energy future and mitigate climate change," he concluded.


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