Wind tech researcher to speak at UD in Lewes

A researcher from the Center for Research in Wind (CReW) at the University of Delaware will discuss how recent innovations in wind technology can lead to a more environmentally-sound energy future for Delaware at the final Ocean Currents lecture of the year in Lewes.

The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. on Aug. 15 at Cannon Laboratory Room 104, Sharp Campus, 1044 College Drive, Lewes.

Aaron Russell, who holds a master’s degree in geography and environmental studies and is a doctoral student in the Water Science & Policy program at UD, will present on industry developments in the wind energy sector in Delaware and the United States.

“Delaware is surrounded by a burgeoning offshore wind industry, and there are many pathways that the state or entities within the state may follow in participating,” Russell said. “We can predict that the offshore wind development will most likely be noticeable to Delawareans in one way or another. In the end, we feel that it is in the greatest interest of the public, developers and policymakers to engage with each other on this subject so that communication can be early, often, and informed.”

Russell said that, first and foremost, he is a social scientist trying to understand how renewable energy sources will affect multiple factors within society, with his primary research focus on wind energy infrastructure development along the East Coast. Collaborating with UD College of Earth, Ocean & Environment professor Jeremy Firestone, Russell analyzes data collected through surveys and interviews and then uses this information to help inform communities and policy-makers about environmentally sound action plans.

“My current research team is made up of collaborators from UD’s marine policy and business programs, as well as the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Marine Affairs,” Russell said. “A lot of people-hours are required for things like envelope mailings, data entry and analysis. It can also be difficult to perfectly construct a survey or interview without unduly biasing the subjects or failing to accurately capture their values.”

Russell said he believes the topic of offshore wind is often overlooked among the wider renewable energy discourse taking place in the United States. There is currently only one commercial offshore wind operation in the United States, located in Rhode Island. Because of this, Russell said, infrastructure development projects in wind energy do not have nearly enough impetus even though it is a reliable source of energy and added that he wishes to inform the public of the reliability and effectiveness of wind power with his upcoming lecture.