ECE Takes Lead On ARPA-E Funded Project

The University of Minnesota has been awarded funding by the DoE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to address challenges to system reliability and power quality by widespread stochastic renewable power generation. The project will be under the NODES (Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems) program by ARPA-E. The $33 million undertaking will involve 12 institutions and the teams will “develop technologies that coordinate load and generation on the electric grid to create a virtual energy storage system.”

ECE’s project under NODES is titled “A Robust Distributed Framework for Flexible Power Grids” and will be partnered with NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Dynapower, an industry partner. The University will receive almost $3 million for the project and Prof. Murti Salapaka from ECE will be the principal investigator.

By developing techniques for both centralized cloud-based and distributed peer-to-peer networks, the proposed system will enable coordinated response by many local units to adjust consumption and generation of energy, satisfy physical constraints, and provide ancillary services requested by a grid operator. The project will apply concepts from nonlinear and robust control theory to design self-organizing power systems that effectively respond to the grid events and variability. A key feature enabled by the proposed methodology is a flexible plug and play architecture wherein devices and small power networks can easily engage or disengage from other power networks or the grid.