Q&A with New AEE Fellow Robert Amundsen on Wind Energy


Q&A with New AEE Fellow Robert Amundsen on Wind Energy

August 18, 2020

The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) appointed Robert Amundsen, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Energy Management, M.S. program at NYIT College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, as a Fellow. The AEE Fellow Grade of Membership is awarded to members who have made significant contributions to the energy management and alternative energy industry. In 2018, he was elected to the AEE Energy Managers Hall of Fame.

Amundsen organizes the Annual Energy Conference at New York Institute of Technology, where experts gather to address some of the world’s most pressing energy issues, including climate change, renewable energy, resource management, and many other areas. He was also instrumental in introducing a course on wind energy technology in the Energy Management, M.S. program. He was also involved in numerous energy projects at New York Tech, including the Solar Decathlon and the solar carports at the Long Island Campus.

In 2019, New York State approved two offshore wind farms on Long Island, so New York Tech’s energy management program is well-positioned to train the next generation of alternative energy experts.

Amundsen sat down with The Box to talk about the growth in offshore wind farms and how New York Tech’s energy management program gives students an edge in the job market.

You launched the wind energy technology course in fall 2019. Why did you develop the course? Did you see this as an opportunity for New York Tech students?
Offshore wind energy capacity has tripled in the past few years. The wind energy technology course was created so students could take advantage of job opportunities in this emerging industry. I developed the curriculum, and Adjunct Instructor Jonathan Johrden agreed to teach the course.

Why is it important that New York Tech offer classes in alternative energy? What kind of competitive edge do these courses give students?
According to the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, the energy industry employed 6.8 million people at the end of 2019, adding over 120,300 new jobs in total, outperforming the rest of the economy in job creation. Alternative energy sources generally have lower emissions of pollutants, which cause climate change.

New York State has committed to 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035, enough to power up to 6 million homes, while creating over 10,000 new jobs. Many technicians will be trained at trade schools, but the graduate programs at New York Tech are targeted at management and engineering positions, which offer the highest compensation.

Offshore wind farms are growing in number. Why? What is the advantage of wind farms?
All power generation systems have construction costs at the beginning, but with wind farms, the energy source (wind) is free. Wind farms can save millions of dollars in fuel costs and avoid millions of pounds of pollution during their lifetimes.

What do you say to Long Islanders (such as fishermen and residents) who don’t want to see wind farms on Long Island?
Modern offshore wind farms are barely visible from land. They are carefully sited to avoid interfering with fisheries and shipping channels.

Alternative energy sources are subsidized by state and local governments. Is wind farming going to be a legitimate source of renewable energy and (pardon the pun) a financial windfall for financial investment?
When properly sited, offshore wind turbines provide inexpensive power and a great return on investment. They are a proven technology. Long-term agreements are used to minimize financial risk.

How does wind energy differ from solar energy?
Solar energy is available during the day, during peak hours of power consumption. Offshore winds are fairly steady, so wind energy is available both day and night. Together, solar energy and wind energy enable us to meet peak loads during the day, and reduced loads at night.

This interview has been edited and condensed.