Powerhouse in the Sky
Surya Santoso grabs energy out of thin air. What's the trick? No trick - it's wind power! When the wind blows, it spins the blades of giant wind turbines, producing electricity. In Surya's home state of Texas, the wind powers about one million homes. That reduces the need to generate electricity from less environmentally friendly sources of energy like coal. So, Texans are eager to make even more wind power. What's the catch?
On and Off
The catch is that you can't control the wind. "Wind power is variable. We can't always accurately predict it," says Surya. Variable can mean unreliable - you can't always count on the wind to supply electricity. Or can you? That's where Surya comes in. No wind? No Problem! Surya is researching ways to store the extra energy made when the wind really blows. One idea is to store it as mechanical energy, like a wind up toy. That way the energy can be released when there ins't enough wind to spin the wind turbines. Wind is an excellent source of clean renewable energy, but managing it isn't always a breeze!
What Is an Energy Engineer?
An energy engineer designs systems that send electricity from one place to another. Surya creates ways to store power from wind turbines. Other energy engineers:
- Manage the power grid that sends electricity to homes and businesses.
- Design new sources of energy and new ways to use energy.