Amy Wang is an undergraduate student studying Environmental Policy, Institutions & Behavior. Dustin Wang is currently an undergraduate student double majoring in Environmental Policy, Institutions & Behavior and Environmental and Business Economics.
Both students worked with Dr. Rachael Shwom and Dr. Mark Rodgers to create an economic feasibility analysis of 100% renewable energy at Rutgers University.
1: Please briefly describe your research. We wanted to see if Rutgers University would be able to run completely on renewable energy by the year 2050 and how it could be done in the least expensive way. To do this, we created several scenarios in which Rutgers decides to get new renewable energy sources (such as combined heat and power, solar panels, and geothermal), each with a different set of conditions. Considering Rutgers’ energy usage and the costs to install, operate, and maintain renewable energy technology, we used software called the General Algebraic Modeling System, or GAMS, to create and utilize a series of mathematical equations to perform calculations. These calculations would give us the costs of installing new renewable energy technology in each scenario, allowing us to compare scenarios to one another and to the way Rutgers is getting its energy now. This work was derived from a past study, similar to ours, done by Dr. Rodgers and his colleagues.
2: How did you come to be involved in this research? Dustin worked with Professor Shwom in the past to research renewable energy economic tipping points. After he and Amy worked together on an advocacy campaign for 100% renewable energy at Rutgers, they were inspired to conduct a feasibility study on the topic. Dustin wanted the research to serve as a basis for his senior George H. Cook Honors Thesis..
3: Where do you see your research fitting into our energy future? We hope our research will spur Rutgers to adopt an emissions reduction goal and to invest in renewable energy. The model we developed created least-cost solutions to supply Rutgers with electricity, with recommendations for when and where to install specific renewable technologies to meet demand.