Meeting off-grid transportation energy needs: A resource evaluation model for a solar vortex power generation system
Moore, Amy Marie
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The transportation sector is responsible for 27 percent of overall greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), and this is due to a heavy reliance on petroleum-based fuels. Therefore, electrification of transportation is desired to reduce this reliance. Alternative energy sources, mainly solar and horizontal wind, are currently the focus for meeting transportation energy needs. Emerging technologies are being developed, which are suitable for off-grid locations, making them appropriate for meeting transportation energy needs at remote locations, such as many of the National Parks. One such technology, the Solar Vortex (SoV), which was developed at Georgia Tech, relies on concentrated wind to generate power. The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) currently has GIS resource models representing solar and horizontal wind resources across the 48 conterminous United States. However, a concentrated wind GIS resource model does not exist. A primary objective of this research was to develop a concentrated wind resource model that is comparable in resolution to NREL's existing solar and horizontal wind resource models. This was performed using ArcGIS to calculate sensible and latent heat for the 48 conterminous United States, using MODIS surface heat flux data, and methods used by Ma et al (2010 and 2013) and Bonan (2002). A digital elevation model (DEM) was developed using contour line data from the 1/3 arc-second National Elevation Dataset (NED) from USGS. The DEM was then used to create a slope model for the 48 conterminous Unites States, which was created in ArcGIS using ArcPy programming language. A power output estimation model was then developed using R software, which used the calculated sensible heat values to estimate average, monthly power output potential based on actual sensible heat data obtained from Ameriflux. The results from the model were then used in-conjunction with the slope model, and calculated diurnal sensible and latent heat values to develop a final model for estimating power output for the SoV. Using NREL's solar and horizontal wind resource models, suitable locations of parks within the National Parks Service for solar and/or horizontal wind power generation were obtained. Upon completion of the final model, a case study was performed using Zion National Park. Zion was chosen for the case study based on its applicability for using the SoV due to its concentrated wind resource availability, and due to its remote location. The case study provides suggestions for the park based on its potential to use SoV units to power electric park vehicles.