Graduate students focusing on renewable sources of energy in the Bredesen Center are working on the global transition from a depleting fossil-fuel based energy portfolio to a diverse and inexhaustible energy portfolio, comprised of multiple perpetual energy sources.
Some of these sources are well known, such as solar, wind, hydro generation, and various forms of bio-mass. However, research also covers emerging technologies, such as finding marketable ways to harness tidal energy, or utilizing water-splitting technology.
Students engaged in renewable energy (RE) research are building on existing bodies of work to advance the field by developing new scientific, technological, economic, political, and social advancements that can reduce barriers to the use of renewable energy sources. They are exploring how to improve the efficiency of these technologies, developing new technologies, or creating new applications for existing technologies. They are working to resolve energy storage and grid intermittency issues that continue to challenge the acceptance of RE into a traditional fossil-fuel based electrical system.
They continue work to identify and understand the many barriers that delay scientific and technological advances, bringing those solutions to reality. And they improve technologies to shorten market adoption timeframes. In some cases, they even run tech start-ups to test market viability as a technology evolves.
In short, Bredesen Center students who are engaged in RE research are actively shaping the present and future of global energy supply. They are learning what does and does not work and why, and are building on this knowledge to hone and standardize RE as a pillar – not a fringe – energy source. Ultimately, they are making our planet more sustainable. These students directly contribute to building scientific and technological breakthroughs which lead to thriving social and economic systems housed in sustainable environments.
For more information on specific dissertation projects visit our page highlighting the Bredesen Center Graduate Students and their research projects.
– Susanna Sutherland is a Bredesen Center PhD candidate pursuing the Energy Science and Engineering PhD. Please visit Susanna’s biography for more detailed information about her work in this area.