Renewable Energy Scientist

Renewable Energy Scientist

A conversation with . . .

Tom Zambrano

Climate Kids: Tom, what do you do as a Renewable Energy Scientist?
Tom:
I work on wind energy and ocean energy projects, especially wind energy.
CK:
How do you get energy from the wind?
Tom:
Well, by energy, we mean electricity. We place wind mills, or wind turbines, as we call them, in windy places. The wind energy turns the blades of the wind turbines, which use that motion to generate electricity. A grid system of wires transports the electricity to homes, factories, stores, offices-wherever it is needed.
CK:
Sounds simple. So why is a wind energy scientist needed?
Tom:
A lot goes into planning a wind farm. That's the term we use for big groups of wind turbines. First, we have to be meteorologists and find good, windy locations. Then we have to think about how the land should be used. We can't just plop a wind farm down in the middle of a town or a national park, for example.
CK:
Definitely not. What else?
Tom:
We also have to be biologists and consider the affect of the wind farm on birds and other animals in the environment. Sometimes we even have to be archaeologists. Sometimes a good location for a wind farm might be right on top of a Native American burial ground or something like that.
CK:
That's no good.
Tom:
Right. And then, of course, there are matters of cost and the policies and opinions of the people who live in or govern the area.
CK:
So, it sounds like you have lots of different kinds of challenges in your job.
Tom:
Yes, indeed. And that's just the wind farm part. We also work with architects to design buildings that can generate their own wind power.
CK:
Wind mills on buildings?
Tom:
Yes! We call it architectural wind. With all the new electric vehicles in our future, cities will need a lot more power to charge the batteries in those cars. It's expensive to bring more power into cities from big power plants and wind farms. If there's enough of a breeze to fly a kite, there's enough breeze to generate power. So why let all that wind energy flowing through urban areas go to waste?
CK:
Wow! We have seen solar panels on the roofs of buildings, but they can generate power from wind turbines too?
Tom:
Yes! And they can still use power from the grid system, which may include power from big wind farms as well as old-fashioned fossil fueled power plants. We have hybrid cars, why not hybrid buildings?
CK:
Amazing. Do you have any special words for our ClimateKids readers?
Tom:
Just that there will be lots of career opportunities in renewable energy science and engineering. It's very exciting, with lots of variety and room for new ideas and innovation. I hope lots of your readers will check it out.
CK:
Thank you, Tom, for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm with us today.