Assessing the Feasibility of Renewable Energy Development in Appalachia; Analyzing the Influence of Societal Standards on Renewable Energy Projects in Appalachia

Murphy, Conor, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Quinn, Julianne, EN-CEE, University of Virginia
Stafford, William, University of Virginia

This paper explores the feasibility of renewable energy development in the Appalachian region of Virginia, an area historically dependent on the declining coal industry. Applications for cleaner energy sources present themselves in Appalachia, taking advantage of the reclamation of mined lands as an opportunity to reinvigorate the energy industry and address climate change. Starting with a literature review and data collection, we explored the potential development of solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy systems in the region. When assessing the potential for these energy sources, we used a weighting scheme to combine a comprehensive set of metrics according to the preferences of a defined group of stakeholders. Our metrics included both technical constraints and the priorities of stakeholders with respect to solar energy, wind energy, and hydroelectric energy. We also considered county policies encouraging the development of renewable energy projects and how developing renewable energy in areas currently struggling socio-economically would impact the economy. We used ArcGIS Pro to determine available land for development and to analyze metrics over this land. Our findings uncovered that Carroll and Floyd counties were the strongest candidates. After narrowing our scope down to these two counties, we found specific sites that satisfied all our development criteria. This analysis contributes to our ultimate goal of helping the population of these counties develop renewable energy resources to stimulate the surrounding economy and address environmental concerns.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Appalachia, Renewable, Energy

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Systems and Information Engineering

Technical Advisor: Julianne Quinn

STS Advisor: William Stafford

Technical Team Members: Charlotte Browder, Abby Dawley, Luke Mathe, Conor Murphy, Fritz Van Winkle

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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