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Faculty and Staff - Klein

Sharon J.W. Klein

Office: 305 Winslow Hall
Phone: (207) 581-3174
*I changed my last name from Wagner to Klein in January 2013

Assistant Professor:

Ph.D., Engineering & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
M.S., Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
B.S., Environmental Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Research Areas:

Google Scholar Page

Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy Economics & Policy, Environmental Impacts of Energy, Thermal Energy Storage, Energy Poverty, Multi-Criteria Decision Making

Research Interests:

My research is interdisciplinary in nature and centers on the economic, environmental and social tradeoffs inherent in the production, distribution, and use of energy.  I use engineering-economic analysis, environmental life cycle assessment, social benefit-cost analysis, and multi-criteria decision analysis to assess tradeoffs in energy decision-making. My primary expertise is in concentrated solar power, thermal energy storage, and distributed solar energy generation.  However, I am expanding my research to include other renewable energy technologies, especially solar distributed generation (water/space heating and PV), biomass and wind.  I am particularly interested in comparisons between central and distributed generation renewable energy options – especially community-managed strategies.  I am also beginning some research on environmentally-economically sustainable waste management.

Professional Background

After receiving my B.S. in Environmental Science, I volunteered for one term of service with the Americorps National Civilian Community Corps (  I was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina and traveled with a team of thirteen people to seven states in the Southeast region of the Unites States doing projects in the areas of education, the environment, and unmet human needs.  I then worked for nearly two years as an environmental technician in San Diego, California, helping to remediate soil and groundwater contamination from leaking underground gasoline and diesel storage tanks.  Subsequently, I worked for three years as a middle school science teacher in San Diego and earned a California Teaching Credential in Chemistry from National University.  I then taught International Baccalaureate Environmental Systems to high school students in Quito, Ecuador for two years before beginning graduate studies.

My doctoral research was about the environmental and economic implications of thermal energy storage for concentrated solar power (CSP) plants.  I created an integrated assessment model (IAM) that calculates the annual capacity factor, levelized cost of energy, life cycle greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and land use of a parabolic trough CSP plant with three different energy backup systems and two cooling options. The IAM uses a multi-criteria decision analysis framework to assess the tradeoffs between different backup systems and cooling technologies in order to develop policy recommendations. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship and the Climate Decision-Making Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

I have a Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station appointment to research renewable energy in Maine. I am currently working on assessing economic, social, environmental and policy barriers and opportunities to widespread distributed solar energy deployment in Maine (PV, water and space heating applications). I am working on a paper that compares the sustainability of a variety of renewable and non-renewable electricity options for the U.S. through a multi-criteria decision analysis framework. I am also part of the new National Science Foundation (NSF) Sustainable Energy Pathways group that is examining an economically, environmentally and socially sustainable pathway for developing drop-in biofuels from woody biomass. I am working with the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at UMaine to develop a levelized cost of energy estimate for a new floating offshore wind farm in the Gulf of Maine. I received a University of Maine Pre-Tenure Research and Creative Activity Fellowship in order to develop a 2014 NSF-CAREER grant proposal for a Sustainable Energy Research Program. I am also working on a project that estimates the economic implications of a variety of landfill development scenarios in the mid-coast region of Maine.



  • ECO 180 – Citizens, Energy, And Sustainability (Spring)
    * I will teach this as a web-based course in Spring 2014 and will resume teaching it as a live course in Spring 2015.
  • ECO 405 – Sustainable Energy Economics and Policy (Spring)
    *This course will be taught by Professors Gary Hunt and Jonathan Rubin in Spring 2014. I will return to teaching it in Spring 2015.

Recent Publications  (note: I changed my last name to Klein in January 2013)

  • Klein, S.J.W. 2013, A multi-criteria decision analysis of concentrated solar power with thermal energy storage and dry cooling. Environmental Science & Technology, under review.
  • Mario F. Teisl, Shannon McCoy, Sarah Marrinan, Teresa Johnson, Caroline L. Noblet, Robert Roper, Megan Wibberly and Sharon Wagner. Will offshore energy face ‘fair winds and following seas’?: Understanding the factors influencing marine energy support Estuaries and Coasts. In review.
  • Klein, S.J.W. and Rubin, E.S. 2013, Life cycle assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, water and land use for concentrated solar power plants with different energy backup systems, Energy Policy, In press.
  • Wagner, S. and Rubin, E., 2012, Economic implications of thermal energy storage for concentrated solar thermal power, Renewable Energy, in press.
  • Wagner, S., Rubin, E., 2012. Evaluating renewable energy systems along the hybrid spectrum: concentrated solar power, Proceedings of the International Conference on Clean Energy (ICCE). Quebec, Canada.

Recent Honors

Current Graduate Students

  • Steve Dutra
  • Stephanie Whalley
  • Binod Neupane

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