Dr. Caroline Draxl, Senior Scientist at National Wind Technology Center

Draxl on one of the meteorological towers at the National Wind Technology Center

Education & Experience

2012-Present  Senior Scientist at National Wind Technology Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

2009-2012   PhD Meteorology, Technical University of Denmark, DTU Wind Energy, Denmark

2004-2008  Weather Forecaster, Marketing in Geoinformatics company, Research assistant at University   of Innsbruck, Austria

1999-2004  M.S. Meteorology and Geophysics, University of Innsbruck, Austria

My interests

I have been interested in Meteorology since after High School, and have been working in the field of wind energy since my master thesis. I have always wanted to do something useful for the greater benefit of society or the environment. At NREL I use numerical weather prediction models to do research on wind resources in various countries, and participate in on- and offshore boundary layer research, and solar energy. I play tennis, and lately have been spending most of my spare time with my 7-months old son.

How I became a scientist

I have been an A-grade student, and after high school I didn’t know what to do. After a higher education in tourism, I decided to do something challenging, and applied: so I studied Meteorology. Without a strong math background it was challenging, but when I excelled in a very hard physics exam, I saw this as a sign that I should continue. I loved it and it felt just right. My master thesis was about the wind energy potential in the Austrian Alps, and from then onward I stayed in this research area. It felt so good to do research (it’s fun to tackle difficult problems), and apply this to something that can better the world in many aspects. I decided to move to Denmark (the country with the highest wind energy penetration) to do my PhD in wind energy forecasting. Research stays brought me to the US (National Center for Atmospheric Research), and now I work for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at the National Wind Technology Center as a numerical weather prediction modeler.

How my work benefits society

At NREL we are working on wind resource assessments for various countries. For example in Bangladesh, the price of electricity is very high. By assessing their wind resource potential and by teaching them “wind energy”, we can help Bangladesh to be more independent of oil. For US grid integration studies, we created a dataset.