Meet Lucía Beloqui Larumbe offshore wind energy researcher
We are joining the European Year of Youth launched by the European Commission by recognizing and valuing the work of young talented Europeans enhancing the green transition.
This week we had the opportunity to talk with Lucía Beloqui Larumbe, a PHD student from Delft University of Technology working on the electricity grid transformation and in particular on the connectivity of offshore wind farms at the new Electrical Sustainable Power lab (ESP lab).
1. Could you tell us about your background and why you chose to focus your career on renewable energy?
My name is Lucia Beloqui Larumbe, and I am an electrical engineer from Spain. I am currently pursuing a PhD at the Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) in the field of offshore wind energy.
As an engineer, I find it exciting to think that nowadays we have the necessary technology to address some of the biggest challenges in the world. One of these challenges is undoubtedly climate change; not only due to its potential disastrous consequences, but also due to the urgency with which it requires our response. I have always been interested in the climate issue and, therefore, once I started my engineering studies I was eager to apply my technical knowledge to help tackle one of the most complicated –and most fascinating– challenges of our time.
2. How is your research helping the energy system to become more efficient and economic?
When an offshore wind farm is connected to the grid (or, in fact, any power-electronic-based equipment) several problems can occur. In my research, I have focused on two specific ones: excessive harmonic distortion and instability. If these problems occur, they can cause the wear-out of equipment (or, even complete breakdown), the unwanted tripping of electrical protections (therefore, provoking an unplanned disconnection of the wind farm), and many more consequences. My research is looking in depth into understanding why these problems occur, and potential factors that affect them.
3. What role is the ESP lab playing in your research and what advantages does it offer?
The Electrical Sustainable Power lab (ESP lab) recently opened at the Delft University of Technology, in order to boost the energy transition. As a researcher at the university, I am lucky to have access to this state-of-the-art facility, where I can do the necessary experiments to validate my research and test my conclusions.
4. What are the challenges of the energy transition in Europe?
Nowadays, electric energy is only a portion of the energy mix. Society consumes energy in many other forms that do not come directly “from the plug”; for example, we use fossil fuels in our cars, to heat up our homes, or for certain industrial processes. One of the challenges in the energy transition is to electrify as many as possible of those activities, and to adapt the activities that cannot be electrified to the use of green fuels (such as green hydrogen, the hydrogen produced with renewable energy). In order to achieve all this electrification, many more renewable power plants need to be installed, and the electric grid needs to be upgraded.
From my point of view, the main challenge will come from the economical, political, and societal side. Making the energy transition is going to be extremely costly, and there is a risk that these costs are not properly explained and justified to society. It is necessary that it is explained not only the need and urgency to make these investments, but also that the scenario of “no investment”, doesn’t exist. The consequences of climate change are going to reach us no matter which road we take; it is up to us to decide when and how we spend the money. At the end of the day, if investing in renewable energies is going to be expensive, not investing in them is going to be prohibitive.
On the way, we might preserve biodiversity, stop degrading of the planet, and most importantly, save the lives of millions whose livelihood and home are under threat due to climate change. Let’s not forget that fighting climate change is not only about saving the planet; it is about saving ourselves.
5. What would you like to hear in a few years’ time regarding the green energy transition?
That it was one of the greatest successes in human history!
6. Which other women have inspired you in your career?
Unfortunately, there is not many female role models in STEM careers. In my case, my inspiration came from my immediate environment. In particular, my older sister, María, studied engineering herself, and motivated me to join engineering and pursue a technical career.
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