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Master of Environmental Data Science

Co-Locating a Power Couple: Retrofitting Existing Wind Projects with Solar PV in the U.S.

Group Members: Michelle Lam, Colleen McCamy, Alessandra Vidal Meza

Faculty Advisors: Grace Wu

Client: UCSB Environmental Studies Department



Technical Documentation

Final Presentation


The demand for renewable energy such as wind and solar power in the United States (U.S.) is rapidly accelerating to help meet clean energy goals. However, a barrier to adding new wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) development lies in delays of constructing new transmission infrastructure. Co-location of renewable energy sites by adding solar PV to existing wind projects can reduce the need for new transmission infrastructure development while increasing profit from the project. The study used an abstract nonlinear optimization model to find the optimal system size of solar PV to be added at each of the identified over 1,300 existing wind projects in the contiguous U.S. Using environmental sensitivity scores and estimated annual levelized-costs, the analysis then ranked the co-location projects to highlight sites that may benefit most from co-location.


University of California, Santa Barbara: Grace Wu, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Program; Ranjit Deshmukh, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies Program and Bren School of Environmental Science & Management

Bren School of Environmental Science & Management: Brad Hill, IT Director; Kat Le, Technical Applications Manager; Jamie Montgomery, Master of Environmental Data Science Program Coordinator; Ruth Oliver, Assistant Professor; Naomi Tague, Professor

The Nature Conservancy: Joe Fargione, Science Director, North America, and Science Advisor, Office of Investments; Christel Hiltibran, Climate and Energy Project Manager; Chris Hise, Associate Director of Conservation; Nels Johnson, Senior Advisor for Renewable Energy; Liz Kalies, Lead Renewable Energy Scientist for the North America Regional Office

Ryan Jones, Co-Founder, Evolved Energy Research

Emily Leslie, Founder, Montara Mountain Energy

Samantha Csik, Data Training Coordinator, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

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