Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Pankaj Lal

Committee Member

Clement Alo

Committee Member

Danlin Yu


The demand for renewable energy in New Jersey will continue to grow as economic opportunities and community support drive development. The effective integration of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) will transform energy production, storage, and use. To achieve sustainable energy production, the current reliance on fossil fuels must be reduced and replaced with less carbon-intensive energy sources that optimize the electric grid. DERs help pioneer the path to a clean energy transition where the implementation of new renewable energy projects will diversify New Jersey’s energy portfolio and provide a more resilient, equitable, and independent energy source. This thesis investigates different perspectives of small wind and solar energy options that are supported by state and governmental initiatives in New Jersey and shows a quantitative review to support these programs. The research combines various scopes, resources, and methods to analyze current perspectives involved in the wind and solar industry with capacities under 10 MW (megawatt). The first assessment will consist of analyzing stakeholder values on sustainable community solar placement characteristics consisting of environmental and social-economic factors, and governmental support. The second assessment involves the aggregation of onshore wind turbine life cycle data and costs in combination with various life extension and disposal strategies to verify small-wind as a carbon-friendly and cost-effective energy source.

In Chapter 1, we review the current conditions and motivation to transition to a clean energy resource, such as the current reliance on fossil fuels and the associated negative impact on local economies and ecosystems. Additionally, we explain how DERs can play a core role in facilitating energy goals better than large-scale utility projects through providing an opportunity to optimize the electric grid, the ability to account for flexible load demands, and increased targeted consumer economic benefits (such as reduced rates). The impact of implementing DERs is strategic and will be critical in supporting the energy transition process. A fundamental principle for sustainable energy development is the optimization of the grid. In Chapter 2, environmental, social, and technical land use characteristics are utilized to determine strategic community solar placement. In this objective we analyzed 9 completed survey responses from solar providers and environmental organizations to gain clarity on their beliefs toward the community solar program, its impact on communities and the environment, challenges, and the future of the industry. The information that was collected through the survey was categorized into a Saaty Rating Scale using an Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) to determine the relative importance of each variable. This data was then represented spatially using an intuitive mapping analysis tool, ArcGIS Pro, to visualize optimal shared solar locations. In Chapter 3, we utilize a Life Cycle Cost Assessment (LCCA) that estimates the environmental and economic impacts of a 1.5 MW onshore wind turbine using Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Life Cycle Cost (LCC). This objective involves scenario analysis of various disposal and life extension options. The assessment can inform policymakers who want to achieve economically viable clean energy alternatives. In Chapter 4, we review policies and implications of this study and how DERs can play a role in promoting sustainable energy practices that are eco-conscious and provide benefits to low to moderate income populations. These methods assist in providing a comprehensive understanding of small-scale wind and solar that can support environmental-focused policies and future decision-making.

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