Website Shines Light on Renewable Energy Resources

Monday, February 2, 2015

University of Arizona researchers and a group of partners have developed a tool that will help utility companies better understand the long-term impact of renewable energy on the power grid and provide insight on how to integrate these resources in the future in the most cost-efficient and reliable way for consumers.

The tool - a web portal - gathers, analyzes and displays real-time data from eight Southwestern utility companies, painting a broad picture of energy sources and use across the region. The information will help companies determine what actions to take for backup power planning over the next several years as the percentage of renewable energy usage grows.

By 2025, Arizona utility companies are required to generate 15 percent of their energy from the sun, wind, biogas, biomass, geothermal and other renewable resources. But the power generated by some of these renewable resources is variable. For instance, a cloudy day will change the amount of power generated by a solar array, a stormy day could generate more wind power, and solar generation drops completely at night —right about the time when customers turn on their lights, increasing energy demand.

By using this tool to obtain a deeper understanding of these opportunities and challenges, utility companies will be able to provide customers with a more reliable and efficient power grid, even as variable resources become a larger percentage of the overall power generated.

Read the rest of this December 17th, 2014 UANews article at the link below.

The UA team that worked on the project includes Alex Cronin, associate professor of physics and optical sciences; web developer J.D. Gibbs and web designer Craig Boesewetter, both of the Communications and Cyber Technologies - Web Development Unit within the UA College of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences; Tony Lorenzo, a graduate student in the College of Optical Sciences; and Rey Granillo, development and IT manager at the Institute of the Environment.