Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Professor Erin Baker — the associate dean of the College of Engineering, director of Wind Energy Fellows, and the faculty director of the Energy Transition Initiative — is currently participating in a threesome of high-profile activities that educate the public, national and international lawmakers, and the engineering and scientific communities about the vast potential of wind energy. In the first of these venues, Baker is moderating an offshore wind panel for the Wilson Center and the Smithsonian on April 21, as reported by the UMass News Office.
Baker is the moderator for a panel entitled “Offshore Energy: Favorable Winds for Renewables?” on Wednesday, April 21, as part of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Earth Week events in conjunction with the Smithsonian Conservation Common’s Earth Optimism Initiative.
The conversation between European and American representatives of offshore wind projects will be virtual and webcast live and will focus on the potential for the use of offshore wind on both sides of the Atlantic, the role it has in the fight against climate change, and new innovations that are driving implementation. The conversation is part of a transatlantic green initiative organized by the Wilson Center’s Global Europe Program and European embassies in Washington, D.C.
More information, including how to RSVP and watch the live webcast of the event, is available on their website.
In yet another prominent appearance, Baker is featured in a CNBC video called The Rise of Wind Power in the U.S. that has been aired several times on that network.
As the CNBC summary of that video goes, “In the past decade, wind power capacity has tripled, and it’s projected to double in the decades to come. Wind is now America’s top renewable source of electricity generation, and the domestic offshore industry is finally taking off as major manufacturers debut ever larger and more powerful turbines. While the industry faces some challenges with permitting, public opposition from various interest groups, and the obvious intermittency issues, there’s no doubt that wind is poised to play a major role in the energy transition. The question is just how fast it will grow?”
In a third venue as reported by the UMass News Office, Baker was part of a team that convened a large group of experts, who predict accelerating cost reductions in offshore wind. In a study published in the journal Nature Energy by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Baker, world experts on wind energy predict accelerating cost reductions in offshore wind, with expected cost declines of 17 percent to 35 percent by 2035 and 37 percent to 49 percent by 2050.
Baker and the Berkeley Lab surveyed the world’s foremost wind-energy experts, who said that technological and commercial advancements are expected to drive down costs significantly.
“With prices coming down so rapidly, it is time to get serious about the offshore industry in the U.S.,” Baker said. “The Biden administration is taking great strides in this direction by coordinating and fast-tracking the federal approval process. If states and local jurisdictions follow suit, we can get steel in the water and take advantage of the lowering costs to start fighting climate change.” (April 2021)