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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Arizona State University
  • Ashley M Broadbent
  • (480) 410-1420
  • David J Sailor
  • Matei Georgescu
Award Date:01/14/2020
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 298,366
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 298,366
  • FY 2020=$298,366
Start Date:01/15/2020
End Date:12/31/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Environmental sustainability of Southwestern US utility-scale photovoltaic expansion under changing climate conditions
Federal Award ID Number:1940781
DUNS ID:943360412
Parent DUNS ID:806345658
Program:EnvS-Environmtl Sustainability
Program Officer:
  • Bruce Hamilton
  • (703) 292-7066

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:09

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Arizona State University
Cong. District:09

Abstract at Time of Award

Photovoltaic (PV) systems can have a local air temperature warming effect that can impact their efficiency and may further exacerbate the warming of the local environment. Interactions between PV, land, and the atmosphere is further complicated by climate changes. The potential for widespread PV deployment to act as a reliable source of renewable energy must therefore be evaluated in a modeling framework that can accurately characterize future regional-scale climatic conditions, faithfully represent relevant PV-land-atmosphere interactions, and assess electricity production. This project targets accurate and robust assessment of climatic effects associated with future deployment of PV systems. The research will couple a PV surface energy balance model that has been developed and extensively evaluated offline by the research team to the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) climate prediction system (referred to as WRF-SolarPV). Through a climate-based application of WRF-SolarPV that accounts for spatially explicit PV deployment extent and configuration, the research team will generate maps of PV deployment “sweet spots” across the Southwestern US, highlighting locations with high levels of sustained solar irradiance that align with suitably low PV module temperatures under a future climate. Specifically, the research will address how future climate may impact the solar resource across the southwestern United States, and what hydro-climatic implications associated with future PV electricity generation can be anticipated. Through an explicit accounting of electricity generation, the research will address key concerns associated with reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental sustainability. The framework to be developed will enable advancements in numerical modeling of energy systems via examination of the regional characteristics of current and future PV-land-atmosphere interactions, including feedbacks among GHG warming, local-hydro-climates, and electricity production in a dynamically interacting system. The research team will develop the open-source state-of-the science tool WRF-SolarPV to be broadly disseminated to the larger climate modeling, engineering and energy communities through the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which supports, maintains and disseminates the WRF system for over 39,000 users in over 160 countries. Development and provision of such a tool is anticipated to be of considerable value to stakeholders considering transition to PV as a renewable source of energy but lacking the assessment tools to do so. The project will also facilitate participation and mentoring of high school students, through an educational collaboration with local public charter schools that have participated in summer intern programs with the research team in the past. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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