Montana State University

Feasibility of wind and solar systems to be discussed Feb. 1 at MSU

January 23, 2012 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- A free public lecture about the opportunities and limitations of wind and solar systems in the United States will be given on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at Montana State University.

Alexander MacDonald, the deputy assistant administrator for Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes and the director of the Earth System Research Laboratory at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will present "Feasibility of a Predominant Wind and Solar Energy System in the United States" at 7 p.m. in the Hager Auditorium at the Museum of the Rockies.

MacDonald will discuss the topic of energy from sources that are not based on carbon. Wind and solar are two of the most economical and scalable renewable energy technologies. The feasibility of wind and solar is rooted in economics and the ability to match electric load with generation. MacDonald's presentation will examine the results of optimization techniques applied to state-of-the-art weather models, which will shed light on opportunities and limitations of wind and solar systems in the United States.

In addition to his lecture, MacDonald will speak on "Geographic Scaling Characteristics of Wind and Solar Energy Systems" at a Department of Earth Sciences and Department of Physics seminar to be held at noon Wednesday, Feb. 1, in room 243 of Gaines Hall. The seminar is free and open to the public.

MacDonald, a meteorologist and former Air Force officer, previously led NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory, which is now ESRL's Global Systems Division. He is widely published in the fields of atmospheric modeling, statistics, dynamics and meteorological systems. MacDonald has received numerous awards, including three Presidential Rank Awards and a Gold Medal. He also holds the patent for Science on a Sphere, a luminous, animated globe installed in museums around the world to educate the public about the Earth and other planets. MacDonald is a MSU alumnus with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics. He earned his Ph.D. in meteorology from the University of Utah.

MacDonald's lecture is sponsored by the Department of Earth Sciences and is presented by the College of Letters and Science's Distinguished Speakers Series. The series, which began in the spring of 2011, brings distinguished scholars to MSU to give a public talk and to meet with faculty and students in order to enrich the intellectual life on campus and to enhance the research connections.

For more information about this and other L&S Distinguished Speakers Series lectures, visit or call 994-4288.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or