Open Position at the Schatz Center: Research Assistant or Engineering Technician

We are currently seeking one or more Research Assistants or Engineering Technicians to work at the Schatz Center in Arcata, California. Based on background skillsets, project needs, and interests, the selected applicant(s) will work in one or more of the following active research areas:

  • Offshore Wind Power: Examine the socioeconomic and policy dimensions of offshore wind power in Northern California by conducting stakeholder outreach and evaluating policies at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Off-Grid Solar for Rural Electrification – Product Performance Testing: Conduct laboratory and desk-based research, data analysis, and report writing/review to support deployment and quality assurance of off-grid solar electricity and/or solar water pumping systems in Africa and/or South Asia.
  • Off-Grid Solar for Rural Electrification – Analysis of Solar Product Users, Technology, & Impacts: Perform analysis of several nationally representative household energy surveys to characterize solar product users. Model environmental and welfare benefits/impacts of energy transitions. Develop and apply tools and approaches to assess the market-readiness of off-grid solar products.
  • Bioenergy: Analyze the performance of biomass conversion systems with physical testing and data analysis. Assess the quality of biomass and biochar products by conducting laboratory tests and physical assessments. Evaluate the market for biochar by designing and conducting interviews with biochar producers and consumers.
  • Renewable Energy Microgrids: Assist with microgrid and EV charging station design, permitting and regulatory processes. Assist with CAD drawing. Assist with evaluation of system benefits and business model. Construction observation.
  • Clean Transportation: Data processing and analysis of electric vehicle load projections. Perform optimization modeling to develop vehicle charging infrastructure. Review and apply equipment specifications. Contribute to translating analysis results to real world scenarios.

Application Deadline: All application materials must be received by 4 pm Pacific Time (US), Wednesday, December 19, 2018. A six-month commitment is required. Reappointment is desirable but contingent on funding, workload requirements, and performance.

Two technicians work with a solar module

Schatz engineering technicians measure the IV curve of a PV module

Technical Update: Redwood Coast Airport Renewable Energy Microgrid

Aerial image of coastline and town of McKinleyville, CA, with airport marked

Site of the Redwood Coast Airport microgrid, image courtesy of Google Earth

This fall, we have been working on project initiation tasks in advance of our technical team kickoff in early 2019. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. The contract with our major partner, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), is completed and approved by the RCEA Board of Directors. We also have completed contracts with TRC Solutions and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.
  2. We are in the late stages of procurement contracting for the 2 MW photovoltaic array and the 8 MWh battery energy storage system.
  3. We are working on a Memorandum of Understanding between the Schatz Center, RCEA, and the County of Humboldt to solidify the roles and responsibilities of each organization during the project implementation process.
  4. We are continuing to work through the final approval process with the Federal Aviation Administration to site the microgrid on airport property.
  5. RCEA will be utilizing a loan from US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to provide much of their cost share for the project. We are working with RCEA to complete the application process for the loan.
  6. We are ramping up our work with Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) project team in preparation for tariff development work, engineering design, and lab testing activities scheduled for 2019.

By March of 2019, we will have all of our contracts in place and will be underway with our electrical design, preparing an interconnection application with PG&E, working with TRC on business model evaluation and cybersecurity planning, and beginning tariff development work with RCEA and PG&E.

The Redwood Coast Airport Renewable Energy Microgrid is funded by a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge and a $6 million match from the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. During an energy outage, the microgrid’s controller will use the 2 MW photovoltaic array and 8 MWh battery to form an electrical island to maintain power for the airport and the adjoining U.S. Coast Guard Air Station. The solar electric system in the microgrid is expected to generate over 3,100 MWh of electricity per year, with most of the energy going to RCEA’s Community Choice Energy Customers through the CAISO wholesale market. A portion of that renewable electricity will be credited directly to the airport’s electricity meters, offsetting approximately 80% of the electrical usage of their two largest electricity accounts. This system will be the first multi-customer, front-of-the-meter microgrid in PG&E’s service territory. It will integrate a microgrid circuit owned by an investor-owned utility (PG&E) with generation owned by a local community choice aggregator (RCEA).

Schatz Energy Fall 2018 Newsletter

Page 1 of the Schatz Energy news

Our twice-annual print newsletter is now available to download. Features include:

  • The Schatz Center roof goes solar
  • A message from the Director
  • Project announcements and updates
  • Student research 2018
  • Lighting Global Quality Assurance updates
  • Northern CA coast offshore wind feasibility

Download the Fall 2018 Schatz Energy Newsletter

Open Position at the Schatz Center: Student Research Assistant

We are seeking a Student Research Assistant (SRA) to work on the development of an electric bus charging infrastructure optimization model. This work will involve programming in the R language, data processing and analysis, and basic GIS work.

The anticipated start date is on or near January 16, 2019. A one-year commitment is requested. This position is part-time, with an expected time base of 10 hours per week during the academic year and 20 hours per week during the summer. This is a temporary, non-benefited, non-exempt (hourly), non-state position. Compensation will be $11.28-$17.82 per hour, depending on skills and experience.

Application Deadline: All application materials must be received by 4 pm Pacific Time (US), Monday, December 17, 2018.

Students on the lawn of the Schatz Center

Student fellows, docents, and assistants at the Schatz Energy Research Center

Northern CA coast offshore wind feasibility study

On October 25, the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University was awarded a grant from the California Ocean Protection Council (a division of the California Department of Natural Resources), to study the feasibility of offshore wind generation for the Northern California coast. The $623k grant will assess the environmental impacts, determine the required modifications of coastal infrastructure, examine stakeholder benefits and impacts, and evaluate local, state, and federal policies as they relate to offshore wind development.

A map of the northern CA coastal region included in this analysis, from Fort Bragg to southern Del Norte County. Average wind speeds are shown.

The feasibility analysis will cover selected areas in this region

Offshore wind energy is likely to play an important role in meeting California’s targets for carbon neutrality by 2045. The offshore wind resource near Humboldt Bay is among the best in the nation, with wind speeds often exceeding 10 meters per second at 90 meters above the ocean’s surface (Schwartz 2010), which is the approximate height of wind turbines. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that the state’s offshore winds have the technical potential to produce 392 TWh per year, about 150% of California’s annual electricity load (Musial 2016).

Analysis of North Coast wind speed data has shown that the wind power is fairly consistent throughout the day (Musial 2016) when compared to other renewable resources such as land-based wind or solar. Offshore wind could provide a more consistent power flow to the grid, which in turn would support increased integration of technologies with highly variable generation throughout the day, such as solar. But California’s deep ocean floor, sensitive ecosystems, seismic activity, and protected coastlines, will require careful research and development in order to responsibly develop offshore wind projects. Engaging California’s coastal communities — who have the most to lose from sea level rise due to climate change — in early research and planning is critical for successful future development efforts.

The project is expected to kickoff in early 2019. For this project, the Schatz Energy Research Center is collaborating with ecological consultants from H.T. Harvey and Associates, coastal engineering specialists from Mott MacDonald, and faculty in the Economics and Environmental Science & Management departments at Humboldt State.

References

Energy Paths for the Yurok People

We recently helped the Yurok Tribe secure $180,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy and we are now working together to develop a Yurok Tribe Strategic Energy Action Plan. This plan will support the tribe’s efforts to increase energy efficiency, develop local renewable energy resources, reduce energy costs, and meet energy needs on the reservation. First we will identify potential energy projects that can help achieve these goals. This list will then be screened and prioritized based on technical feasibility, cost, likelihood of being funded, and other criteria. Finally, we will work with the Tribe to select a few key projects where we will develop preliminary design and cost information sufficient to “queue them up” for future funding and deployment.

Our work will be split between two key regions of the Reservation – the Klamath region at the mouth of the Klamath River (served by Pacific Power) and the upriver region near Weitchpec (served by Pacific Gas & Electric). Projects will be identified in these two regions that can provide economic, environmental, resilience, and energy security benefits. These may include community solar installations with energy storage, micro-hydropower, microgrid technologies, and participation in aggregate net metering programs. The Yurok Tribe has been working for years to make sure all tribal members on the reservation have access to reliable, affordable, modern, cost-effective energy services. This project aims to outline a clear path to achieving these goals.

RELATED EVENTS…

On Thursday, November 1, Santa Clara law professor Catherine Sandoval will present her research on “The Native American reservation electricity access gap: a case study of the Yurok Tribe’s leadership and next steps for energy justice and climate change.” The talk will be held at 5:30 pm in the Native American Forum on the HSU campus.

Dr. Sandoval’s research will also be released shortly in Energy Justice: US and International Perspectives (New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018).

Looking over a ridge toward evergreen mountains

Looking south along the Klamath River from the new Tulley Creek Transportation Building