Current Research

ISES is currently engaged in wind and solar integration, resource assessment, and optimization research with a variety of industry and government partners. In addition, a number of graduate research projects are working to advance the cutting edge of research practice for resource assessment and variable generation integration. A sample of current projects is presented below.

APS wind project

NAU researchers are evaluating the value and potential of distributed wind energy for residential use, using the Flagstaff area as a case study, for Arizona Public Service Company, an Arizona utility. The project has three tasks: assess the existing homeowner valuation process for distributed, residential wind energy; improve the methods for homeowner valuation of residential wind energy; and modeling wind energy potential for distributed, small wind turbine installations. Results of the study will be used to inform decisions on the use of distributed wind energy at Arizona Public Service Company.

SRP Wind/Solar Integration

NAU researchers are working with EnerNex and General Electric on a wind and solar integration study for the Salt River Project, an Arizona utility. The goal of the project is to develop planning estimates for the integration costs of increasing levels of wind and solar on SRP’system. NAU researchers are developing wind and solar production time series data for use in modeling the system with these higher levels of renewables. Results of the study will be used to inform system planning decisions at Salt River Project.

NextEra: Solar Resource Assessment

NAU researchers designed and deployed an array of solar data loggers to gather and analyze solar irradiance data on a ranch in Northern Arizona. The data will be used to characterize the magnitude and variability of the resource, as well as the correlation between resource variability and meteorological predictions and phenomena.

NextEra: Wind and Solar Integration and Transmission optimization

NAU researchers are using existing wind data and data collected from the Solar Resource Assessment project above to characterize the wind and solar resource in the region, including the quality, variability, and potential complementary nature of the resources. This information will be used to determine whether an interconnection to transmission can be optimized for utility-scale wind-and-solar colocation.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Under the direction of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NAU researcher Adam Nelessen is improving and validating a recently-developed numerical model for predicting the performance of wave energy devices. The resulting method will help developers to improve reliability and reduce the overall cost of energy for wave energy devices through more accurate prediction of loads, motions, and power generation.

Methanol Project

The Arizona Synthetic Fuels Project aims to establish a synthetic fuels industry in Northern Arizona. This project will capture and recycle carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and harness the power of renewable electricity in order to produce a carbon-neutral liquid fuel that is fully compatible with our existing gasoline infrastructure. The target product is methanol­—an alcohol that is nearly identical to ethanol—which can be produced and utilized domestically, sustainably, and at an effective cost.