The Washington State University Institute for Northwest Energy Futures is a new research center located on the WSU Tri-Cities campus to help address the increasing demands for resilient, affordable, and available low-carbon electricity and transportation fuels.
The institute is currently developing industry partnerships for energy systems research and fostering community discussions for policy development at the state and national levels. The institute is also developing curriculum to support future workforce needs across various energy sectors.
The institute will assist local energy stakeholders with the research and analytics to better understand and manage the interrelationship between emerging clean, net-zero emission energy sources and technologies and the impacts on current energy systems, the economy, natural resources, and public policy.
The WSU Institute for Northwest Energy Futures is in the Tri-Cities, the state’s energy hub. The mid-Columbia region boasts an unparalleled array of regional net-zero emissions energy sources, including nuclear, solar, hydro, biofuels, and wind power. The Tri-Cities is the location of both the WSU Tri-Cities campus and the renowned Pacific Northwest National Lab. With its resources, knowledge and expertise, and workforce prowess, the Tri-Cities is the clean energy headquarters for the state and Pacific Northwest region. The institute’s placement in the Tri-Cities intentionally builds on a legacy of energy innovation and the region’s commitment to advancing energy services and solutions.
Washington State University Tri-Cities was named a winner in Phase One of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize by the U.S. Department of Energy. This first-of-its-kind competition aims to further climate and environmental justice during the transition to a net-zero-carbon economy by directly funding disadvantaged communities. As one of 18 winners, WSU Tri-Cities was awarded $200,000 to implement its Empowering the Future Energy Workforce plan.
The state of Washington is accelerating the decarbonization of energy. It is shifting the current energy mix away from fossil fuels and toward zero-emissions electricity and other low-emission energy sources. This requires adapting industrial and agricultural processes, especially critical in the mid-Columbia region, rich in farmland and food processing manufacturing. It increases the need for more energy efficiencies, managing energy demand, and effective carbon capture, utilization, and storage technology innovations.
The transition to net-zero carbon emissions involves transforming energy and land-use systems supporting the region’s way of life and economic well-being. Understanding the interrelationships and assessing the economic, social, and political ramifications of changes in the energy and land-use systems is the mission of the WSU Institute for Northwest Energy Futures research and analytic services.
The WSU Tri-Cities campus already boasts several related research and educational centers dedicated to tackling energy-related scientific and engineering challenges. The WSU-PNNL joint nuclear, biofuels, and power grid institutes and the Bioproducts, Sciences, & Engineering Lab, will partner and collaborate with the WSU Institute for Northwest Energy Futures to better understand and shape the mid-Columbia region’s diverse energy resources and systems.
The WSU Tri-Cities campus recently announced its first endowed faculty position in energy and the environment due to the $500,000 gift from Bob Ferguson. Ferguson served as the first deputy assistant secretary of nuclear programs for the U.S. Department of Energy and is a long-time Tri-Citian and energy leader in the state and region. The endowed faculty position in energy and environment serves as a linchpin for the new institute and its role in helping solve net-zero emission challenges and creating a smooth energy system transition for the region and beyond.