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This is the fifth in a series of profiles and updates from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) first Electricity Industry Technology and Practices Innovation Challenge (EITPIC).

The EITPIC was designed to tap into American ingenuity for ideas on how to make the nation’s electric grid stronger and more resilient. Through the challenge, DOE sought ideas from industry, academia, and other innovators for technologies and solutions to address existing or emerging vulnerabilities and threats to the electric sector or mitigate interdependencies between the electricity sector and other sectors.

The University of Houston (UH) received two awards: $50,000 for its proposal to enhance existing energy management systems with a stochastic, security-constrained, economic-dispatch model to account for networked microgrids and flexible transmission; and another $20,000 award for its proposal to create a scenario-based, long-term expansion planning strategy that addresses uncertainties in the power grid, reducing computational complexity in current transmission planning models.

“The electric power system is a key infrastructure sector, its reliability and resiliency matter to everyone. Continuous electricity supply is very important to society’s stability and economic growth,” said Xingpeng Li, Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Houston. “The future power grid will no longer be top-down. Rather, the future power grid will have millions of distributed energy resources (DERs). Even if grid outages occur, areas with enough DERs will still be able to provide continuous electricity on its own to its critical loads.”

The first UH project harnesses the growth of distributed energy resources across the grid. Aggregated DERs via a networked microgrid can provide services to support reliable operations in the face of grid interference. The team’s proposed technological strategy could enhance the grid with stochastic optimization, flexible transmission, and responsive networked microgrids.

The second UH project aims to reduce the computational complexity of electric grid expansion planning with scenario reduction technologies. The team’s devised modeling and optimization could solve different challenges the grid faces in order to increase flexibility and resilience. 

The EITPIC awards will enable the team to conduct additional research on grid flexibility and resiliency while funding the preliminary results for their proposed technologies.

Learn more about the University of Houston’s proposal and all of the 2019 EITPIC winners here