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UCLA MAE Associate Professor Richard Wirz was recently quoted in the Daily Bruin article “UCLA Grand Challenge reveals plan for environmental sustainability” (please click link for entire article):

Richard Wirz, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, researches cost-effective sources of renewable energy for the Challenge. One statistic the plan cited to support the cause for environmental policy change in L.A. states that renewable energy, like wind and solar power, powers only 22 percent of L.A. County’s electricity.

“In LA, (energy consumption) is a gigawatt problem, so we need gigawatt solutions,” said Wirz, a member of the Challenge’s main steering committee.

Wirz leads a team that aims to improve wind turbine technology and solar thermal energy storage. His project, funded in part by the California Energy Commission, plans to test the technology at a solar field in Brawley, California in 2016, he said.

“It’s a volunteer effort – myself and others do it out of a labor of love,” Wirz added. “It’s not helping our salary. Everyone on a committee is passionate about saving the planet.”

Wirz said he thinks the initiative has the potential to impact cities, states and countries beyond the immediate UCLA area, potentially making L.A. a model for urban sustainability and livable ecosystems.

“This is an effort to be responsible,” he said. “We’re trying to create an example for other parts of the world.”