You are here

Sailing the electric grid through wind and sunshine


ECE Seminar

October 31, 2013
234 Larsen Hall

Sailing the electric grid through wind and sunshine 

Prabir Barooah
University of Florida
The North American power grid is a giant system made up of many components – generators that generate electricity, transmission and distribution lines that carry it, and loads that consume it, such as lights and air conditioners. For stable and safe operation of the grid, generation and demand (consumption) of electricity must be equal at every instant. This balance is traditionally achieved by control mechanisms at many levels, but primarily by commanding the generators to produce exactly what the grid needs every instant. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, however, cannot be commanded in this manner. Their generation is also highly variable. This creates a need for new resources to achieve supply and demand balance. Without such resources, cascading blackouts may occur more frequently.
When generation is uncontrollable, one possibility is to control the demand. An obvious choice for flexible demand is buildings, which consume 75% of the electricity generated in the U.S. Due to their large thermal inertia, commercial buildings can effectively act as short-term batteries and tune their demand to match supply with negligible change in the indoor climate.  With appropriately designed control algorithms, all the buildings in the U.S. together can provide much of the required “ancillary service” to the grid. In fact, any flexible load, not just HVAC, can play a role in helping the grid absorb volatile renewable energy sources. In this talk we will describe our current work on developing such control algorithms. Some of these algorithms are being tested in a UF campus building.
Details on this research can be found at LINK
Prabir Barooah is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida, where he has been since 2007. He received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2007 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 1999 to 2002 he was a research engineer at United Technologies Research Center, East Hartford, CT. He received the M. S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 1999 and the B. Tech.  degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1996. Dr. Barooah is the winner of the ASEE-SE (American Society of Engineering Education, South East Section) outstanding researcher award (2012), NSF CAREER award (2010), General Chairs' Recognition Award for Interactive papers at the 48th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (2009), best paper award at the 2nd Int. Conf. on Intelligent Sensing and Information Processing (2005), and NASA group achievement award (2003).

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer