Training and Research under a Sustainable Roof: Developing a Net-Zero Biological Field Station at the Taboga Forest Reserve, Costa Rica
This project laid the groundwork for establishing a net-zero biological field station at the Taboga Forest Reserve in Costa Rica. This field station will serve as a school for U.S., Costa Rican, and international students to learn about sustainable energy systems, ecology, and agriculture, in addition to hosting a full-time research project investigating behavior and cognition in wild white-faced capuchins. The site will serve as a model site for sustainable energy, water, and waste management solutions.
This team focused on a strategic energy plan to provide reliable and sustainable energy to an expanding facility. The team investigated a combination of solar, hydrokinetic, biomass, and battery storage resources to meet the site's current needs, in addition to supporting two additional houses and a forecasted 16-bedroom dormitory.
Microgrid architectures were modeled using HOMER optimization software, balancing renewable resources and their associated costs with projected electricity demand. A proof-of-concept rooftop solar array was installed on the laboratory to provide energy security and inform solar performance for future microgrid expansions. Optimization results were presented to stakeholders at Universidad Técnica Nacional and Tecnológico de Costa Rica, who are partnering with the project to install a biomass gasification system that will supplement electricity generation from local sugarcane and rice agricultural residues.
Andrew Harrison, MS (SusSys), MSE (Chemical Engineering); Jacob Picardat, MS (CE); Tom Hayek, MS (CE)