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UAlbany Receives $750,000 Grant to Fund Climate Research

By Shawn Ness | August 21, 2023

The University at Albany has been selected for the National Science Foundation grant to help fund research on how weather affects the power grid and energy.

Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Carol Kim speaks at the opening convocation ceremony.

Photo Credit: Jim Frano, Albany Times Union

The grant is provided by the National Science Foundation to create a Center for Weather Innovation and Smart Energy and Resilience (WISER) to help corporations and government agencies interact about their research on weather’s effect on power grids.

“WISER aims to leverage the research and expertise at UAlbany and UConn [University of Connecticut] to create advanced weather- and climate-based solutions for the energy industry, now and in the future,” according to a UAlbany press release. “...WISER’s research direction will focus on renewable energy (solar, hydro, and wind), power outage management, electrical grid resilience brought on by extreme weather, and ways climate change impacts power producers and power distributors.”

The $750,000 grant was also awarded to the University of Connecticut through the NSF’s Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC).

UAlbany currently has three climate research centers, The Center of Excellence for Weather and Climate Analytics, which is an entrepreneurial hub for over 120 climate researchers and facilities, the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC), which examines a broad spectrum of fields including renewable energy, atmospheric physics, and climate change, and the Mesonet, a state-wide real-time weather monitoring system.

The WISER program will be headed by the ASRC director Chris Thorncroft and Emmanouil Anagnostou, UConn’s Eversource Energy Center.

The grant will also include a five-year $3.7 million industry partner member fee. The partnerships include relationships with IBM, Eversource, a utility company from Massachusetts, and Avangrid, a firm that owns wind and solar farms based in Connecticut, according to a UAlbany press release.

Thorncroft hopes to operate applied research projects that are beneficial to the project’s partners’ “weather-energy umbrella.”

“The [specific] projects are yet to be chosen by the industry partners but one such project could be to explore the vulnerability of infrastructure.... Some substations might be vulnerable to flooding for example,” Thorncroft said. “But there are many other projects that might be chosen by the industry partners – resource assessment, outage modeling, and extreme weather warnings.”

The WISER research team will consist of 16 UAlbany faculty members from the ASRC, the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity, and 16 faculty members from UConn.

The program will also include recruiting graduate and undergraduate students from underrepresented communities as a way to increase minority representation in science and engineering.


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