EAP Capstone

Embodying the Wisconsin Idea

The Wisconsin Idea is the principle that the university should improve peoples’ lives beyond the classroom. This idea spans the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s teaching, research, outreach and public service missions. It is also core to the EAP program. The program is oriented toward preparing students to lead and help address real-world problems associated with energy production and use.

EAP Capstone projects are the most direct embodiment of the Wisconsin Idea by integrating and applying students’ interdisciplinary learning to an issue of real-world significance. Each spring, students enroll in the EAP Capstone course (EnvSt/URPL/PubAff 810) and work in small teams on issues supplied by real-world clients.

Over the years, EAP Capstone clients have included Fortune 500 companies, state government agencies, municipal governments, research laboratories, think tanks, non-profit organizations, and campus facilities. If you are interested in serving as a client for a future project, please contact EAP Engagement Lead Tracey Holloway.

To illustrate the depth and breadth of analysis that students have provided for past clients, a listing of capstone projects is provided below.

Past Capstone Projects

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Survey of Distributed Energy Resources in MISO Territory - Spring 2018

Summary: The motivation for this project is to help the Organization of MISO States (OMS) gain a better understanding of the drivers, pace, and location of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) deployment throughout the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) footprint. The end goal of this project is to ensure that OMS members are better informed to provide guidance on DER as it impacts MISO’s transmission planning and market enhancements.

Client: Organization of MISO States (OMS)

Effects of Salt River Project’s Demand Based Rate Change on the Rooftop Solar Market in Maricopa Count, Arizona - Spring 2017

Summary: We begin by taking a broad view of the rooftop solar policies in the US, including observations of rooftop photovoltaic (PV) market growth by state. We identify major policy events and select the case of Salt River Project in Arizona to investigate in more detail. Using the Tracking the Sun database, interviews, and simulations in System Advisor Model, we describe changes in PV adoption, PV system price, installer market, and system characteristics that coincide with a major rate design for Salt River Project solar customers.

Client: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Analyzing the Economic, Environmental and Equity Impacts of Replacing Coal Plants with Clean Energy and Storage in Illinois - Spring 2017

Summary: At the request of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), an analysis of the economic, environmental, and equity impacts of replacing coal plants in Illinois with clean energy technologies and storage was conducted. This was accomplished through the following three steps: 1) identifying and ranking coal power plants located in close proximity to vulnerable communities using demographic and environmental data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) environmental justice screening tool (EJSCREEN) and health data from the American Community Survey; 2) quantifying and ranking carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from coal plants in Illinois using recent data from EPA and Energy Information Administration (EIA); and 3) choosing a coal plant with a high vulnerability ranking to serve as a case study for analyzing the costs and benefits of retiring and replacing the plant with solar and wind power combined energy storage compared with a new natural gas plant.

Client: Union of Concerned Scientists

Health Improvement Opportunity (HIO) - Spring 2016

Summary: The objective of this capstone project is to aid in the development of an internal price on air pollutants and carbon dioxide which will be accomplished via two avenues. First, the estimation of the health costs resulting from Baxter’s emissions of fossil fuels in the United States. This measurement of health costs is meant to be used within their whole business to frame their processes as a means of improving citizens’ health. The second goal of this project is to provide suggestions as to how the health investment opportunity can be implemented and integrated into Baxter’s decision-making.

Client: Baxter International Incorporated

Analysis of the Potential for Distributed Generation Solar Photovoltaics to Economically Reduce Carbon Emissions in Wisconsin for Clean Power Plan Compliance - Spring 2016

Summary: This project will assess the current state of Wisconsin’s energy generation, calculate technical potential for distributed generation photovoltaic (DGPV) across the state, project economic potential for distributed generation across the state, and calculate the resulting emissions reductions that may be possible. We will project a range of prices of solar generated electricity, and project the average costs of residential and commercial sector retail electricity, and assess the necessary amount of price subsidy or carbon tax necessary to close the economic gap between technical potential and economic potential.

Client: Clean Wisconsin