Renewable Energy Technologies and Health



The ORC program is to be carried out in ten Research Themes which are listed below. A brief and general description is also provided under each Theme. While the program covers a broad range of research topics, research activities in each theme will be in-depth, and there will also be strong interactions between the different Themes.

THEME 1: Studies on Potential Health Risks of Wind Turbines
Activities in this research theme include studies on turbine noise generation & propagation, noise models, and influence of blade design; in-lab and on-site noise measurements; health studies including clinical and epidemiological studies on the effects of different frequency and sound pressure levels due to turbine noise and other annoyance factors.
THEME 2: Safety Issues of Large Wind Turbines
This research theme addresses safety issues associated with large wind turbines, such as blade failure and ice-throw effects. Research activities will cover design and development of sensory & monitoring systems, risk analysis, and investigation of new materials for blade surfaces.
THEME 3: Grid-connected Renewable Energy Systems: Electrical Safety and Reliability Consideration
Research will address the challenges of the grid connection of highly distributed photovoltaic (PV) systems and associated electrical safety issues. Energy reliability and system efficiency studies will also be carried out for PV-Wind hybrid systems.
THEME 4: Building-integrated Solar Thermal/PV systems and Associated Health and Safety Aspects
Research focus will be on the materials and technologies for building-integrated PV systems and PV/Solar thermal hybrids. Activities include development of energy efficient systems components, integration methodologies, and studies on health effects and operational safety of the materials.
THEME 5: Safety Aspects at the Development stage of Solar PV and Wind Technologies
Safety aspects related to material usage and manufacturing environment will be studied in this research theme. The pilot line solar processing facility in the Centre for Advanced Photovoltaic Devices and Systems at Waterloo will be used as a case platform for this study. Studies will also extend to materials and electro-mechanic components used in wind technology.
THEME 6: Emerging Nanotechnologies for Solar Energy Conversion and Associated Safety Aspects
The health and safety hazards along with the development of future nanotechnologies for solar energy conversion will be studied with the focus on novel materials and technology scale-up.
THEME 7: Energy reliability studies of Small Hydro with Renewable Hybrids
This theme will constitute of feasibility and design studies on the use of small hydro in hybrid with other renewables (wind, solar) to maximise reliability and energy re-distribution.
THEME 8: Bio Energy Technologies and Impact
Fundamental and applied studies of biomass utilization methods including hydrothermal conversion and gasification, characterization and use of their derivatives, and economic and environmental effects; combustion properties and greenhouse gas emissions; nano-materials in catalytic combustion.
THEME 9: End-of-Life Disposal Issues of Renewable Energy Systems
This research looks at the options of handling the renewable energy system at their end-of-life. As the systems are being deployed in ever-increasing volumes, solutions will also be sought on how the issues can be addressed early at the manufacturing stage.
THEME 10: Policies and Standards for Renewable Energy Technologies
Studies into this theme will aim at producing safety recommendations for new materials and technologies, and putting forward policy and standards recommendations for renewable energy systems at their manufacturing, operational, and end-of-life stages.