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Resource Scientist

Position TitleResource Scientist
Alternate Title(s)Atmospheric Scientist, Meteorologist, Wind Resource Engineer, Wind Resource Analyst, Site Engineer
Education & Training LevelAdvanced, bachelor’s required, prefer graduate degree
Education & Training Level DescriptionResource scientists need a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science, engineering, math, statistics or a closely related field for most positions. Those who work in research usually need a master’s degree or a Ph.D.
Brief job description Resource scientists study weather, climate, and site conditions as they relate to the deployment of renewable energy technologies. Resource scientists use this data to create wind plant energy predictions and assess the placement and suitability of sites for turbine technology deployment. 
Preferred Level of EducationBachelor’s degree or higher
Preferred Level of ExperienceSee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Estimated/Expected SalarySee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Job Profile

Resource scientists study weather, climate, and site conditions as they relate to the deployment of wind technology. Resource scientists use this data to create wind plant energy predictions and assess the placement and suitability of sites for turbine technology deployment.

Resource scientists monitor the atmosphere around a potential project to ensure that there is adequate wind to produce electricity at a desired rate of return. They assess site suitability, whether the wind or other weather conditions may be too extreme for viable wind development. These scientists take wind measurements over a period of months or years and use computer models to judge whether the wind is optimal for turbine operation. In addition, they help decide the placement of turbines to ensure that the greatest possible amount of energy is obtained from the wind at the lowest cost.

Resource scientists design and oversee instrument campaigns for resource assessment and wind plant siting. They develop reports and forecasts from their analysis of weather and climate data. Additionally, they have an understanding of characterizing wind power losses and uncertainties (array, availability, blade soiling and icing, electrical) from a typical wind farm layout. They calculate net energy generation distribution. This allows a wind developer/owner to predict energy production at a specific site and understand the consequent investment case.

Resource scientists in the wind industry typically do the following:

  • Measure atmospheric properties such as wind speed, wind direction and temperature and site characteristics such as topography and geotechnical conditions
  • Collaborate with environmental scientists to support environmental assessments and implement recommendations
  • Use computer models that analyze data about the atmosphere (also called meteorological data)
  • Write computer programs to support their modeling efforts
  • Produce maps to display resource potential, turbine sites, and project constraints
  • Prepare short- and medium-term wind energy forecasts using high-performance computers, mathematical models, satellites, radar, and local station data
  • Prepare long-term energy production estimates using meteorological data in conjunction with computational models and statistical summaries
  • Evaluate, select and recommend optimal turbine choices from a range of potential turbine models to maximize energy generation and project value
  • Plan, organize, and participate in outreach programs aimed at educating the public about renewable energy
  • Assist in ongoing management of wind plant operations to ensure maximum productivity, availability and safety
  • Assess the losses and uncertainty of wind energy production estimates.

Many resource scientists work with other geoscientists or social scientists to help solve issues in areas such as commerce, energy, transportation, agriculture, and the environment. For example, resource scientists may work on teams with engineers and geologists to find the best locations for new wind plants.

Job Skills
  • Critical-thinking skills. Resource scientists need to be able to analyze the results of their computer models and determine the most likely outcome.
  • Math skills. Resource scientists use calculus, statistics, and other advanced topics in mathematics to develop models used to forecast the weather or determine. They also use mathematical calculations to analyze the relationship between properties of the atmosphere, such as how changes in air pressure may affect air temperature.
  • Communication skills. Resource scientists must be able to explain their findings and recommendations to their colleagues and clients.
  • Writing skills. Resource scientists prepare detailed reports of their forecasts and research.
  • Speaking skills. Resource scientists need to be able to write and speak clearly so that their knowledge about wind energy can be used effectively by communities and individuals.

A resource scientist in the wind industry should also be familiar with the following:

  • Wind plant design and analysis software
  • Meteorological instrumentation and data management
  • Performance engineering on operational wind farms including experience in typical enterprise scale wind farm SCADA data systems and efficiency analysis on wind turbines
  • Traditional wind energy assessments for utility scale wind developments including quality control of met tower data and familiarity with industry-specific software
  • Scripting languages and knowledge of statistical methods including time series analysis.
Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Resource Scientist

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