Optimization Problems in Renewable Energy

I enjoyed a talk yesterday by Peter Graf, a scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Peter spoke at a UC Denver Operation Research Seminar.

Peter talked about several problems: the search for better materials for photovoltaic cells, finding the best way to place turbines on a wind farm, improving biotechnology and nanotechnology, and improving the energy efficiency of buildings. He has framed these as optimization problems but finds that standard methods aren’t always a good fit. Good search strategies are critical since it can take two days on multiple processors to calculate one data point, and there can be a million points of interest.

I learned about some optimization techniques that I might try to apply to my own efforts in finance. I was also impressed with a graphic format that can summarize high-dimensional data.

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