State grant boosts URI’s energy-related research

KINGSTON – The R.I. Office of Energy Resources is awarding the University of Rhode Island’s Division of Research and Economic Development a $150,000 grant for use in energy-related research and analysis.

The URI Research Division in turn will provide $50,000 to the URI Partnership for Energy to establish a rapid-response center to assist the state in analyzing emerging energy issues. The remaining $100,000 will go to the Graduate School of Oceanography to develop plans for a center for offshore energy technology research and development.

URI said its faculty members have a wide range of expertise that could be quickly called upon to provide insight and analysis when energy proposals are put forth in the state, particularly when a rapid response is critical.

“Development of innovative energy supply systems in Rhode Island will hinge on our ability to quickly assess the validity of proposals and to identify their economic, social and political costs and benefits,” said Brett Lucht, a URI professor of chemistry and the co-director with Marion Gold of the URI Partnership for Energy. “Our rapid-response center will be able to provide timely, neutral analyses of energy issues, providing immediate guidance to energy policy makers and building the foundation for more in-depth research.”

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The funds from the energy office will also help lay the groundwork for a Center of Excellence for Offshore Wind Energy at URI, which will take advantage of URI’s expertise in oceanography, ocean engineering and marine technologies to develop technologies for energy production based on offshore wind, waves, currents and thermal properties.