Spotlight on Yingying Zheng

Yingying Zheng received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from China Agricultural University, and Master of Science in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. After that, she started her post doctoral work in Energy Engineering at University of California, Davis. Her Ph.D. dissertation focused on investigating the important problem of optimizing the design and operation of renewable energy integrated microgrid under uncertainty for combined electrical and thermal energy supply to improve energy sustainability. Having been awarded her Ph.D. degree in March 2018, she started her work in associate professor Sid Suryanarayanan’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow. Her current work focuses on demand-side management in microgrids.

Using a complex computer model of the Texas energy grid, Zheng will be working with Suryanarayanan to add more renewable energy like wind and solar to the model. Renewable energy is not stable or constant, so Zheng wants to make the model complex enough to handle different scenarios and run test to see how predictions of when the sun will shine and exactly how much solar it will generate play out. She is fascinated by all types of energy and her work looks at how different sources cooperate, compete and interact with each other on a grid.

China’s Taishan (Mt. Tai) located in Shangdong. Photo by Nat Krause via Wikicommons.

Zheng, who is an only child, was struck by how familiar Fort Collins felt to her home province in China, Shandong. Shandong is a coastal providence located by the Yellow Sea but feels a little like Fort Collins in that it has an agricultural backbone to it with crops like apples, onions and garlic. It also has peaks, and in fact Shandong translates to “mountains” in Chinese.

Zheng believes in the idea of a “world energy network,” and hopes to help create systems that will allow 100 percent renewable energy to be shared all over the world. Right now, countries like Denmark and Germany are at the start of this idea and are sharing energy. If for example, Denmark produces excess wind energy they can sell that to Germany. Zheng wants to see this idea magnified to include the entire planet. “The wind is always blowing somewhere,” she said, explaining that she believes that over time the technology to connect disparate energy systems from say China to the United State will improve and make this idea feasible.

She is excited to have a yard here in Fort Collins and is growing chilies, blackberries, garlic, onion and zucchini in her garden. One of her favorite things to do after work is to drink Vienna coffee and work in her garden.

“I am excited to work with different people and get their perspective on my ideas, and learn more about what other people are working on and doing here at the Powerhouse and CSU,” she said.