Connor Bayne '21 researching renewable energy’s ability to meet electricity demand

Connor Bayne

Like many civically minded undergraduates, Connor Bayne ’21, mechanical engineering major in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, plans to enter the renewable energy industry after graduation. His experience in the Energy and the Environment Research Lab (EERL), led by Max Zhang, professor in the Sibley School, is providing an opportunity to work on real-world solutions to some of the largest global issues. 

Bayne is working with Zhang and Jeff Sward, a Ph.D. student at EERL, on research centered around renewable energy’s ability to meet electricity demand. He is particularly interested in the ability of offshore wind to supply electricity to New York State. Offshore wind energy is positioned to become a major source of affordable, renewable power in the coming years, especially in New York.

Over the past six months, Bayne has worked with multiple datasets and Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model outputs to identify reliable diurnal, seasonal, and monthly trends in offshore wind speed. The importance of identifying such trends centers on the lack of renewable storage options. Furthermore, when power is generated from wind, it needs to be transmitted and used quickly. If diurnal, monthly, and seasonal wind speed trends do not coincide with electricity consumption needs, a viable, large-scale storage facility is necessary.

“With massive projects already underway off the coast of New York City, it is important to understand the raw potential contained in offshore wind power,” says Bayne.

Recently, Bayne began to tackle validating meteorological data with LiDAR buoy data. The buoy data is publicly accessible through the New York State of Opportunity (NYSERDA) and provides valuable information to engineers and scientists like Bayne and Zhang.

Zhang frequently encourages Bayne to push the limits of his research and pursue the most cutting-edge topics.

“He knows the importance of renewable energy, especially with significant, unavoidable climate change occurring due to anthropogenic causes,” says Bayne. “Professor Zhang continues to guide me to become the very best researcher and student I can.”

Bayne was impacted by many faculty members in the Sibley School during his undergraduate career. “Professor Ruina’s unique grading scheme, Professor Kirby’s engaging teaching style, Professor Barthelmie’s industry-leading professional experiences, and Professor Zhang’s wealth of renewable energy knowledge have all had substantial impacts on my experience at Cornell,” says Bayne.

When asked what the most valuable aspect of his time in the Sibley School, Bayne speaks about the people he has met along the way. 

“Making friends with people of all different backgrounds with unique perspectives is the biggest takeaway from my undergraduate experience,” says Bayne.

In addition to working in the Energy and the Environment Research Lab, Bayne is also the student director of the Athlete Steering Committee and is a member of Pi Sigma Epsilon, a professional business fraternity on campus. He also works for Heat Inverse, an Ithaca-based startup. The startup is working with a cooling technology that helps manufacturers increase efficiency in a simple and cost-effective manner. The startup is working with cooling technology that helps manufacturers increase efficiency and decrease energy consumption.

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