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Renewable energy in rural southeastern Arizona: decision factors : a comparison of the consumer profiles of homeowners who purchased renewable energy systems with those who performed other home upgrades or remodeling projects

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Arizona has an abundant solar resource and technologically mature systems are available to capture it, but solar energy systems are still considered to be an innovative technology. Adoption rates for

Arizona has an abundant solar resource and technologically mature systems are available to capture it, but solar energy systems are still considered to be an innovative technology. Adoption rates for solar and wind energy systems rise and fall with the political tides, and are relatively low in most rural areas in Arizona. This thesis tests the hypothesis that a consumer profile developed to characterize the adopters of renewable energy technology (RET) systems in rural Arizona is the same as the profile of other area residents who performed renovations, upgrades or additions to their homes. Residents of Santa Cruz and Cochise Counties who had obtained building permits to either install a solar or wind energy system or to perform a substantial renovation or upgrade to their home were surveyed to gather demographic, psychographic and behavioristic data. The data from 133 survey responses (76 from RET adopters and 57 from non-adopters) provided insights about their decisions regarding whether or not to adopt a RET system. The results, which are statistically significant at the 99% level of confidence, indicate that RET adopters had smaller households, were older and had higher education levels and greater income levels than the non-adopters. The research also provides answers to three related questions: First, are the energy conservation habits of RET adopters the same as those of non-adopters? Second, what were the sources of information consulted and the most important factors that motivated the decision to purchase a solar or wind energy system? And finally, are any of the factors which influenced the decision to live in a rural area in southeastern Arizona related to the decision to purchase a renewable energy system? The answers are provided, along with a series of recommendations that are designed to inform marketers and other promoters of RETs about how to utilize these results to help achieve their goals.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Sustainability assessment of community scale integrated energy systems: conceptual framework and applications

Description

One of the key infrastructures of any community or facility is the energy system which consists of utility power plants, distributed generation technologies, and building heating and cooling systems. In

One of the key infrastructures of any community or facility is the energy system which consists of utility power plants, distributed generation technologies, and building heating and cooling systems. In general, there are two dimensions to “sustainability” as it applies to an engineered system. It needs to be designed, operated, and managed such that its environmental impacts and costs are minimal (energy efficient design and operation), and also be designed and configured in a way that it is resilient in confronting disruptions posed by natural, manmade, or random events. In this regard, development of quantitative sustainability metrics in support of decision-making relevant to design, future growth planning, and day-to-day operation of such systems would be of great value. In this study, a pragmatic performance-based sustainability assessment framework and quantitative indices are developed towards this end whereby sustainability goals and concepts can be translated and integrated into engineering practices.

New quantitative sustainability indices are proposed to capture the energy system environmental impacts, economic performance, and resilience attributes, characterized by normalized environmental/health externalities, energy costs, and penalty costs respectively. A comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment is proposed which includes externalities due to emissions from different supply and demand-side energy systems specific to the regional power generation energy portfolio mix. An approach based on external costs, i.e. the monetized health and environmental impacts, was used to quantify adverse consequences associated with different energy system components.

Further, this thesis also proposes a new performance-based method for characterizing and assessing resilience of multi-functional demand-side engineered systems. Through modeling of system response to potential internal and external failures during different operational temporal periods reflective of diurnal variation in loads and services, the proposed methodology quantifies resilience of the system based on imposed penalty costs to the system stakeholders due to undelivered or interrupted services and/or non-optimal system performance.

A conceptual diagram called “Sustainability Compass” is also proposed which facilitates communicating the assessment results and allow better decision-analysis through illustration of different system attributes and trade-offs between different alternatives. The proposed methodologies have been illustrated using end-use monitored data for whole year operation of a university campus energy system.

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Date Created
  • 2018