The UA Renewable Energy Network (REN) is a university-wide initiative designed to support the expanded regional, national, and global use of abundant, clean, and economical renewable energy by connecting community and industry to the UA’s research and educational programs. 

Transformative change in our production and use of energy is one of the most significant challenges of the 21st Century. As energy demands and carbon emissions increase, tremendous pressure is exerted on the reliability and resiliency of existing energy delivery systems and water supplies. The technological, economical, and social factors of energy change, taken together, represent the best opportunity for accelerating progress towards a fundamental shift in our energy future.

In partnership with researchers, students, business and government leaders, REN works to:

  • Reduce our reliance on carbon-emitting energy sources

  • Increase access to energy services and economic development potential

  • Effectively integrate renewable energy into a complex electric grid system

  • Develop pathways for advanced energy innovation

  • Understand the link between energy and water and improve access to these services

  • Promote sustainable approaches for urban and rural energy delivery systems

“REN fosters an environment of interdisciplinary collaboration, where researchers from all over campus are coming together to share resources and expertise. I had no idea how much campus research was complementary to my work.  These collaborations are improving the quality of my own research and strengthen our future grant proposals.”

– Brian Wheelwright, 2012 Energy Fellow and 2013 Exploratory Grant Recipient


Ardeth Barnhart

Ardeth Barnhart, Program Director for the Renewable Energy Network at the Institute of the Environment. 

Ardeth Barnhart directs the UA Renewable Energy Network.  Her work includes the development of a UA renewable energy policy program focusing on economic and policy development for innovation. She specializes in the design and implementation of strategies for the adoption of renewable energy, both in Arizona and nationally.  Prior to her appointment at the Institute of the Environment in 2010, Ardeth was the co-director of the Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy (AzRISE) at the UA. While there, she advised on the strategic direction of the institute and evaluated solar energy programs worldwide, with an emphasis on the economics of these programs and the underlying public policy decisions that impact their growth, sustainability, and interaction with technology development.

  • UA Internal Advisory Committee
    • Neal Armstrong, Ph.D. - Associate VP Office for Research & Discovery, Regent's professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Optical Science
    • Eric Betterton, Ph.D. - University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and Hydrology
    • Kim Ogden, Ph.D. - Professor, Department Chemical and Environmental Engineering
    • Stanley Reynolds, Ph.D. - Professor of Economics, Eller College of Management

REN is also a founding member of the University of Arizona’s Water, Environmental, and Energy Solutions (WEES), a funding initiative to integrate UA’s vast expertise in water, the environment, and energy. Established by the University of Arizona and the Arizona Board of Regents, WEES is co-managed by the Water Sustainability Program, the Institute of the Environment, and the Renewable Energy Network. WEES funds are used to support interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaborations concerning scientific, technological, and policy-related solutions to Arizona’s water, environment, and energy issues.

REN works closely with the staff of the Institute of the Environment on administrative and outreach program development.