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Hayes Secures $500,000 Solar Research Grant

Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter water quality specialist M.P. Hayes is the recipient of a $500,000, two-year research grant from the Louisiana State University Institute for Energy Innovation (IEI) and the LSU Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED). This research project is in collaboration with Chao Wang (LSU College of Engineering) and Greg Upton (LSU Center of Energy Studies).

Hayes’ project is titled: Experimental Analysis of Floating Photovoltaic (FPV) Systems in Industrial Wastewater Treatment Ponds for Louisiana Community Resiliency.

As the need for energy infrastructure evolves, science and industry must use available resources to meet increasing demands. The project will examine using temporary, deployable floating photovoltaic (FPV) systems in non-economic water bodies – such as wastewater treatment ponds and irrigation ponds – to generate renewable energy in disadvantaged communities. The first year of the project will compare the energy efficiency of water-cooled FPVs to land-based photovoltaic systems. Data collected will be used to forecast the scalable FPV energy potential in wastewater treatment, industrial oxidation and agricultural irrigation ponds around the state. In the second year of the project, the research team will develop technical assistance reports for facility-specific ponds or community areas with high-impact potential.

Phase I funding for synthesis and experimental research through IEI is designed to stimulate the development of interdisciplinary teams to help solve critical energy transition challenges for Louisiana industry, government and communities. By advancing new technologies and knowledge and establishing best practices and common ground, funded projects will provide solutions and answer pressing questions related to carbon capture and sequestration in Louisiana, including the long-term safety and monitoring of injection sites and financial compensation for landowners and parishes; the deployment of large-scale solar farms, including their long-term viability, aesthetics and impacts; and environmental justice, including how to best measure community benefits resulting from the federal Justice 40 initiative and how to address complex social considerations of emerging energy technologies.

The LSU Institute for Energy Innovation is transforming the way we generate, store and use energy in Louisiana and around the globe. Established with a $25 million gift from Shell in 2022, the institute elevates groundbreaking research that not only advances the frontiers of knowledge but also translates into practical solutions and policy recommendations that foster economic growth and environmentally responsible energy for all. The core mission of the institute is to bring together scientists, engineers and public policy experts with industry, government and communities in Louisiana to work on research, development and demonstration projects and policy recommendations to secure the state’s energy future in alignment with LSU’s Scholarship First agenda.