Environmental Science Division (EVS)a Division of Argonne National Laboratory

Mapping Energy Futures: A Summary of Ongoing and Near-term Research at Penn State

June 20, 2014

Dr. Kirby Calvert
Assistant Professor, Department of Geography
Penn State Institutes of Energy and Environment
Friday, June 20, 2014
10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Argonne National Laboratory
TCS Building 240
Room A323

Dr. Calvert will present his research on the following three topics:

  1. Improving site-suitability and land-use impact models for optimal spatial implementation of ground-mount solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the Northeast U.S. This research aims to improve the data, tools, and knowledge through which to understand and forecast siting decisions as well as land-use impacts related to the implementation of utility-scale solar PV systems in the Northeast U.S. This will include a discussion of recently updated county-level estimates of 'abandoned agricultural land' across the continental U.S., with emphasis on the northeast region.
  2. Pairing wine with wind, solar and biomass energy? An integrated assessment of opportunities and impacts related to renewable energy development in viniculture regions. The success of renewable energy technology and policy solutions is context dependent. This research will develop and apply a methodology to perform regional-level integrated assessments of the opportunities and impacts related to renewable energy (RE) development. Established and emerging viniculture regions in Ontario, Canada will be used as case-studies. A standardized resource classification system will be developed and applied to assess regional potential of renewable energy stocks and flows. Preliminary analysis of the extent to which RE technologies can be integrated into viniculture value chains will be performed through a review of current research related to: 1) the influence of utility-scale wind turbine operation on near-surface daily and seasonal micro-climates, and how these impacts might change known micro-climatic preferences (for optimal sugar production) of specific grape varietals; 2) feasibility studies of experimental 'agrivoltaic' systems - i.e., novel configurations of low-concentration solar photovoltaic (PV) systems co-located with specialty crop production - and their potential to be realized in viniculture systems; and 3) existing end-uses for viniculture biomass waste streams, namely vineyard pruning and grape processing residues, and the extent to which their physical properties are compatible with commercial bioenergy conversion technologies (e.g., ethanol; biogas). Qualitative research techniques will be used to assess public attitudes toward RE development in these areas in order to understand the potential impacts of RE development on agri--tourism and regional marketing strategies.
  3. SolarPVAnalyst 2.0: Toward advanced geospatial decision-support for renewable energy implementation. The wide-spread adoption of solar energy conversion from distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems brings unfamiliar opportunities and challenges to property (home-) owners, urban/regional planners, and city officials. This project will improve the awareness and decision-making capacity of these stakeholder groups through software development and research application. This project is the first-step of a longer-term research program aimed at integrating siting models with utility-scale power flow models to better understand the interface of property-owner decisions, city planning, and utility system operation.

About Kirby Calvert

Kirby received his PhD in Geography from Queen's University (Ontario, Canada). He became interested in energy studies early in his academic career having realized that the transition to sustainable energy systems will be among the most significant drivers of change to physical and social landscapes. After completing his PhD in June 2013, Kirby accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Geography at Penn State (faculty affiliate with the Penn State Institutes of Energy and Environment). Kirby's teaching and research program contain two parts: 1) developing concepts and methods to improve geo-spatial decision support for energy system planning and renewable energy implementation; and 2) interdisciplinary and mixed-method analysis to help understand and anticipate some of the broader social and ecological impacts of intensive renewable energy development. His talk will focus on Part 1.

Photo of Dr. Kirby Calvert
Photo of Dr. Kirby Calvert [Source: Penn State Institutes of Energy and Environment]