Renewable Energy for Arctic Communities

To start ASAP.

Contact Dr. Crawford at referencing this position specifically.

As part of a MEOPAR funded project working together with atmospheric/Arctic researchers, Dr. Crawford is recruiting a PhD student to work on the following project. A background in energy systems, wind/solar energy and numerical modeling is an asset. Undergrad and MSc degrees in Mechanical Engineering would be the typical profile of an applicant for this position.


Das and Cañizares (2016) and Pinard et al. (2016) have performed  feasibility studies for a number of communities in the Arctic using HOMER, examining a range of performance indicators and a variable mix of diesel/solar/wind generation with battery backup. Previous work on remote energy systems by Crawford’s group (Hoevenaars, 2012) found that the optimal generation mix could be quite sensitive to the simulation time-step used; Das et al. used 1 hr, but depending on the load characteristic this can mask challenges (costs and emissions) associated with diesel genset operation. Das et al. also used only one turbine design (100 kW on 30 m tower) for all but one larger community, and do not make mention of icing events curtailing operations. Pinard et al. Only studied a few sites in detail, leaving others for future work.  The proposed work will extend these earlier studies, using a mixed time-stepping/probabilistic algorithm to simulate the interplay between generation and loads, and thereby examine intra-hourly variability and its impact on diesel genset operation. The short term, turbulent variability in the wind resource, together with decadal variability due to natural variation superimposed on climate change, will be used to seed the requisite wind inputs to the energy system simulation. The meteorology-focused aspects of the proposed project, in particular examination of near-surface winds and turbulence, will be very important to ascertain wind generator performance and lifetime as both power fluctuation and fatigue loads are driven by the wind spectral characteristics.

Given the protracted periods of reduced insolation in the North during the winter, additional wind generation options bear examination. A range of different machines will be considered, in terms of conventional machine size, rotor loading and tower construction techniques, all of which have implications for the balance of delivered energy costs. Moreover, options for deploying airborne wind energy will be considered; these systems are emergent and rely on kites or gliders flying autonomously aloft to generation electricity either through tractive force on a ground-based winch or via turbines on the glider with power transmitted to the ground. They have tremendous potential for deployment in the North, given the greatly reduced transportation and installation requirements and lowered costs. They can also fly much higher than the tower heights feasible for erection in the North, accessing an improved wind resource (of particular importance in periods of very stable stratification). Crawford is also developing a cloud-passing solar energy generation model to account for transients in that resource.  Ultimately, the work is directed toward affecting actual project initiations in Northern communities by helping to de-risk and optimize renewable system options, to ensure that research results lead to action on the ground.