Las Vegas, Nevada -The Nevada System of Higher Education has been awarded $20 million over a period of five years for the Solar Energy-Water-Environment Nexus project. This project is funded through the National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR); whose mission is to assist NSF to strengthen research and education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
"This green energy project presents an outstanding opportunity for our students, faculty and all Nevadans as this facility comes on-line in Boulder City," said Dan Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education. "Our researchers will play a critical role in advancing the knowledge base of this emerging technology, but also provide an incredible resource to our underrepresented students in the areas of STEM."
The award was announced by Nevada Senator Harry Reid yesterday. This research effort will secure Nevada's position as the undisputed leader in clean energy innovation," said Reid. "Nevada has come a long way in developing our nation's clean energy best practices. This collaborative project will be another important leap towards a more sustainable clean energy future."
The Nevada Environment, Water, and Solar Testing and Research Facility (NEW-STAR) will be established through this funding. Research at the facility will focus on engineering/technological solutions to repel arid dust and minimize water usage, while examining the desert ecosystem responses, and developing mitigation tactics to preserve the environment.
The project will also address critical problems of relevance to large-scale solar installations in arid desert lands. The scientists will combine research on solar energy generation with the understanding of eco-hydrological impacts of solar installation in desert regions to advance the economic and eco-friendly viability of solar electricity generation.
"This project has the potential to develop less costly and thus more competitive solar electricity generation techniques aimed at minimizing both water usage and environmental degradation. These technological solutions are applicable to solar energy installations not only in Nevada, but also nationally and globally," said Dr. Gayle Dana, Nevada NSF EPSCoR project director.
In addition, NSHE researchers will study potential new areas of economic development for Nevada, emphasizing new opportunities for workforce development, diversity, hiring new faculty, and providing more scholarship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields.
This system-wide partnership involves the research institutions of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Desert Research Institute. Further involvement includes faculty and students from NSHE undergraduate institutions. The award will increase the ability of Nevada's higher education institutions to be competitive through research on solar energy generations, its environmental impacts, and associated water issues, and to develop new capabilities in cyberinfrastructure that will accelerate the high speed connectivity within institutions for scientific capabilities.
"UNLV is pleased to be a part of this project," said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. "We believe Nevada is an ideal location for advancing solar energy, and we are delighted to help develop clean energy technology that will address a variety of environmental concerns. UNLV is at the forefront of interdisciplinary research that can contribute to the economic development of our community and state. This grant demonstrates how competitive we have become in research and how committed we are to educating our work force, improving the economy of the state, and enhancing the quality of life for all Nevadans."
Enhancing the state's cyberinfrastructure is essential to interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists and engineers, funding will be used to establish the Nevada Research Data Center (NRDC) for innovative data management, high speed communication, new web servers, scientific software, visualization tools, and high connectivity equipment needed for the project.
"The successful collaboration that began with the first EPSCOR grant is sure to continue as we build on our capabilities in cyberinfrastructure and computational research that will be utilized throughout the institutions as a foundation for this project," said Kevin Carman, executive vice-president and provost at the University of Nevada, Reno. "With 15 faculty from four of our colleges involved in all aspects of the project, we're proud to be providing major contributions in research and scientific and technical expertise, including workforce development, that will benefit all Nevadans."
"The NSF-EPSCoR Nexus project aims to position Nevada at the forefront of research on solar energy and its relation to water and the environment. DRI's experts in water, earth, ecosystems and atmospheric sciences will play a critical role in making 'Nexus' a success," said Dr. Stephen Wells, DRI president. "We are honored to be a part of this."