PhD research aims to make renewable energy systems financially viable

An enterprising PhD student from Victoria University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) is on a mission to slash the cost of living and at the same time reduce New Zealand’s carbon emissions.

PhD research aims to make renewable energy systems financially viable

An enterprising PhD student from Victoria University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) is on a mission to slash the cost of living and at the same time reduce New Zealand’s carbon emissions.

Daniel Burmester is two and a half years into his PhD project, working on residential renewable energy systems with the aim of making renewable energy financially viable for homeowners.

“In New Zealand, selling power back to the grid is not economical”, says Daniel. “To get value for money from a solar installation, the best bet for a homeowner is to use as much of their produced power as possible. The system I’m working on shifts around background household devices to make the most of power being produced during the day.”Daniel studied Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering at undergraduate level and in his third year was selected to undertake a summer scholarship project installing a micro wind turbine.

“During the project my ethics and research interests aligned—and I wanted to continue exploring the subject”, he says. “People know about climate change, but addressing a massive issue like that is problematic for them because they feel like they can’t make a difference on an individual level.

But if we can break it down to deliver a system that saves people money within a reasonable timeframe it will be an incentive for people to switch to carbon-neutral options to run their homes.”

Daniel is also enjoying working with his supervisor, ECS’s own Dr Ramesh Rayudu, especially as renewable energy is advancing so quickly.

“There is so much happening and there are so many research avenues – it’s a really exciting area to be involved in”, says Daniel. “I would love to see a practical realisation of the system I am working on.”

So what’s next for Daniel? Eventually he’d like to become a lecturer so he can continue his research and pass on the knowledge that he’s gained during his PhD.

Whatever the future holds, Daniel’s research will ensure that renewable energy is a bright idea for years to come.

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