Elena Baca

Researcher III - Mechanical Engineering

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Elena Baca is a research engineer for NREL’s Water Power Research and Development group. Her work focuses on techno-economic modeling of marine energy (ME) systems and investigating pathways to reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of ME technologies. She leads the development of the marine energy module of the System Advisor Model which is a standardized modeling platform used to estimate annual energy production and LCOE for wave and tidal energy systems. Elena is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Advanced Energy Systems Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines with an expected graduation of 2023 and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University in Energy Systems Engineering. Prior to working at NREL, Elena has experience with mechanical design and energy efficiency of commercial and industrial systems.

Research Interests

Techno-economic Analysis

Marine Renewable Energy

Energy and Performance Modeling


M.S., Advanced Energy Systems Engineering, Colorado School of Mines (Expected graduation 2023)

B.S., Energy Systems Engineering (Business and Entrepreneurship Minor), Oregon State University

Professional Experience

Researcher III, NREL (2019–Present)

Certification Engineer, Structural Integrity Associates (2018-2019)

Mechanical Engineer, ColeBreit Engineering (2018)

Energy Efficiency Engineer, Portland General Electric (2017-2018)