Engineering Today Energy Tomorrow The research effort behind the future's renewable energy systems
By Geoffrey Giller
Picture the future of energy.
Gleaming white turbine blades turn in a stiff wind. Solar panels cover rooftops. Battery-powered cars glide quietly down city streets. Buildings are heated and cooled with geothermal energy. Such utopic visions are, it seems, on the horizon. But this future will not arrive automatically. People must find the ideal places for wind turbines and then build them. The electric grid will need extensive modifications. And the storage capacity of modern batteries has started to plateau.
That’s where engineers come in. At Cornell Engineering, sustainable energy research is one of four strategic areas of significant research focus for the near future. “We’re not just interested in inventing gadgets,” says Jefferson Tester, a professor of sustainable energy systems, the director of the Energy Institute at Cornell and a fellow at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. Rather, engineers at the college want to help create a full, functioning system that integrates renewable energy supply from multiple sources with energy efficiency technologies so that the vision of a sustainable energy future can actually be realized.
Read more about the future of energy here.