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Spring ECE Seminar Series on the Future Power Grid - Smart or Not?


ECE Seminar Series on Power

Thursdays at 1PM, 234 Larsen, Feb 2013- Apr 2013

  • February 7  Michael Wright, Power Grid Engineering. Power Systems Overview.   
  • February 14  Pete Sauer, U. Illinois.  What Happens When You Turn on a Light?
  • March 14  Santanu K. Mishra,  Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India.  Nanogrid: DC Based Energy Distribution and Control
  • March 28  Dale Oliver, PE, Vice-President, Operations, Power Grid Engineering, LLC. The Electric Utility Industry: An Evolution or Revolution.  More Info:

  • April 11  Sean Meyn, University of Florida. 
                                NOTE:  The April 11 lecture will be at noon!

  • TBA David C. D'Amico, PE Georgia Power Company. 
  • Postponed to fall semester Pramod Khargonekar   University of Florida, DOE ARPA-E,  and NSF.  

Lectures by Anu Kowli,  UIUC

Mondays 5:00-6:30pm,  409 NEB          

  • January 28:  Understanding Swing Dynamics and Frequency Regulation in a Power System  Presentation

  • February 4:  What Causes Power System Blackouts?


                       BPA Balancing Authority in the Pacific Northwest:  Wind Generation Exceeds Hydro

During the week of October 12-19 2012,  the power output from wind turbines in the Pacific Northwest exceeded the output from hydro - presumably for the first time ever.  

The green plot shows output from wind - the volatility is extreme on many time-scales.  In particular,  observe that the output can ramp up or down by 1,000MW in just one hour.


Europe is moving very quickly to up to 50% renewable energy; the pace in the U.S. is slower, but still significant.  

Governments around the world are providing incentives for renewables because of concerns about global warming, and because the cost of traditional generation is rising.  

Natural gas from fracking is seen as the solution by many in the U.S.. While this is providing temporary relief,  we are left with two concerns a) the uncertainties presented by greenhouse gases (how will the climate change? Where will the polar bears go?)  b) Given rising demand, natural gas from fracking may be gone in 50 years! 

Eventually we must create a more sustainable energy infrastructure. What issues must we address to create this infrastructure?  Below are some questions that are a focus of this lab.  The lecture series will cover a broader set of topics.

  • Wind and solar energy introduce volatility to the grid. What is the cost of volatility? How can cost be reduced through engineering; in particular, control design? How much control and infrastructure is needed to deal with these costs, and who should pay for it?
  • What is the capacity and value of flexibility in demand in residential and commercial buildings? manufacturing?  Recent studies show that the capacity is substantial - how then do we harness these resources? How do we achieve acceptance from consumers? How do we balance possibly competing desires for power system reliability, economic efficiency, privacy,...?
  • What new controls are necessary to allow better pricing for demand responses that increase the efficient use and supply of energy on the grid in a way that does not create instability?
  • How should government policy in the energy sector be structured?



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