Plans for New Weather Innovation, Smart Energy and Resilience Center Draw Energy Sector Leaders to ETEC

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 24, 2022) — The University at Albany hosted energy industry executives from more than 20 companies at ETEC this week for a two-day planning meeting that offered an overview of Weather Innovation, Smart Energy and Resilience (WISER), a newly proposed ​Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC).

WISER, a partnership between UAlbany and the University of Connecticut (UConn), aims to leverage the research and expertise at both institutions to create advanced weather- and climate-based solutions for the energy industry, now and in the future.

The IUCRC program, funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF), provides a structure for academic researchers to conduct research of shared interest to industry and government organizations. A planning grant for WISER has been funded through the NSF and will formulate a blueprint for building the center.

“The NSF created the Industry-University Cooperative Research Center program with the goal of generating breakthrough research through engagement between industry innovators, world-class academic teams and government agencies,” UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez said in remarks opening the planning meeting on Monday. “Our proposed WISER center targets where weather and climate intersect with the energy industry. This model is exactly the outcome that we envisioned when we designed the ecosystem of research, industry, and economic development assets here at ETEC.”

President Rodríguez speaks with attendees during a welcome at the WISER planning meeting on Monday..
President Rodríguez offers welcome remarks at the WISER planning meeting on Monday.

“Our two great universities along with partners, government and industry are determined to meet the urgent challenges. WISER will create research and innovation on new and sustainable solutions for power generation as well as agreeing to deliver them reliably in the future of climate extremes,” added UConn Interim President Radenka Maric.

There are 84 active centers across the United States, offering a way for academic researchers in the industry to help solve critical issues, while also providing students the opportunity to do valuable research that will enhance their careers.

WISER’s current grant funds a 12-month period of planning for the proposed center. Stakeholders already took part in a multi-week virtual boot camp over the summer, where they developed about a dozen proposed projects for researchers, industry, and agencies to discuss, all relating to WISER’s primary research thrust areas: renewable energy, outage management, grid resilience and climate change impacts.

At the planning meeting earlier this week, these proposals were presented and discussed, with industry and agency representatives offering feedback and suggestions. Ultimately the WISER center would choose two or three projects to complete every six months, each one designed to meet a specific climate or energy need.  

Christopher Thorncroft, director of UAlbany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, NYS Mesonet and Center of Excellence in Weather and Climate Analytics, and Emmanouil Anagnostou, director of UConn’s Eversource Energy Center, are leading the WISER planning operation for their respective universities.

“There’s not a better time to start a center with this acronym,” Anagnostou said. “We are becoming wiser, with an explosive mix of expertise between the two universities.”

Empowering the Energy Industry

With support from the NSF, WISER would become a leading energy industry-academic partnership, advancing research and cutting-edge technologies to improve energy industry efficiency and reliability in the face of a rapidly changing climate and global transition to clean energy sources.

UAlbany’s Weather-Climate Enterprise hosts the largest concentration of atmospheric, climate and environmental scientists in New York, and one of the largest in the nation, with close to 120 faculty, researchers, and staff.

In November, ETEC, a new $180 million, 246,000 square-foot research and development complex opened on the Uptown Campus, housing all of the University's weather and climate researchers, along with the nation’s first College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, together under one roof. It is also the new home of the National Weather Service’s Albany Weather Forecast Office.

The launch of WISER will add to UAlbany’s growing portfolio of research at the intersection between weather, climate and the energy industry. Last fall, New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas & Electric announced plans for a new partnership with UAlbany and UConn researchers to develop a customizable outage prediction system that can enhance storm preparedness and response efforts for utility companies. Another new partnership between UAlbany and IBM researchers is examining weather and climate impacts on water, transportation and renewable energy systems in New York.

If selected, WISER will be based at UAlbany, through collaboration with industry, government, and academic partners. It will also offer opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to participate in research and be exposed to industry-academia partnerships.

Photos by Patrick Dodson