RIT part of U.S. Department of Energy initiative to improve national energy grid

Bing Yan represents RIT as part of TRANSFORMATIVE to optimize operations and to add variable renewable energy

Scott Hamilton

Bing Yan, a faculty-researcher in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, will represent the university on TRANSFORMATIVE, a collaboration among academia, industry, and national research labs to improve how solar energy is better integrated in the national energy grid.

Rochester Institute of Technology will be a contributing partner on a $4.5 million U.S. Department of Energy initiative to improve the operation of grid transmission and distribution systems, including how information about energy resources can be better transmitted securely. The university will provide optimization models and methods as more solar energy resources are added to the current grid.

Referred to as TRANSFORMATIVE, the project is funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Technologies Office. Based at the University of Connecticut, the lead organization, expertise from academia, industry, and national research labs will work together on the project to improve current and future power systems. Investments in alternative, renewable energies and more coordinated processes could decrease consumer costs and increase clean energy options for residences and industries.

RIT will be represented by Bing Yan, assistant professor of electrical engineering in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, an expert in operations and management of power and energy systems. Her research is in modeling how extensive energy networks can better balance resources and demands. Yan will contribute to improving distributed and asynchronous optimization mechanisms required by grid operators.

“There is a need to have a system that is better coordinated, but also makes information sharing both effective and secure so that the privacy-sensitive, distributed energy resources will be willing to participate in the market,” said Yan, who recently received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to explore options for smart grid management and increase energy storage capacity.

According to the Department of Energy, it is sponsoring projects to develop new, state-of-the-art planning and operations tools to enable solar energy to be better integrated and utilized within the electric power grid. This asset could provide Americans with more affordable and secure sources of clean energy. These research activities will help improve the resilience of energy systems with increasing amounts of renewable energy. Efforts in this area are intended to meet the Biden Administration’s goals for achieving a decarbonized electricity sector by 2035.

Conventional grid management methodologies fall short in maintaining privacy and optimizing system operation in the presence of distributed energy resources. Conventional centralized control mechanisms provide shared data among stakeholders, elevating privacy risks and computational complexity. The TRANSFORMATIVE project team expects to achieve a 30 percent improvement in privacy preservation metrics and a 20 percent reduction in computational time compared to existing models, Yan explained.

TRANSFORMATIVE is an acronym for Transmission and Distribution Systems with Flexible and Optimal Coordination: Resilience, Modeling and Technologies for VRE and DER-integrated Adaptive Energy Grid. The University of Connecticut announced this major project award and focus on March 21. Team members include the host university, RIT, the University of Utah, South Dakota State University, Southwest Power Pool, ISO-NE, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Resource Innovations National Grid, Raytheon Technologies, Avangrid, American Electric Power, and Polaris Systems Optimization. More about the partners, project and Department of Energy focus can be found online.

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