#Columbia University#US Department of Energy#Electrical grid

Columbia University receives grant to modernise grid systems

In a recent press release, the University of Columbia (UoC) has announced a USD$2.06mn grant from the US Department of Energy (DoE)

|Jun 30|magazine7 min read

In a recent press release, the University of Columbia (UoC) has announced a USD$2.06mn grant from the US Department of Energy (DoE).

The award, called a Performance-based Energy Resource Feedback, Optimisation and Risk Management (PERFORM) grant, will go towards the development of a dashboard capable of monitoring the electrical grid for the purposes of mitigating financial and engineering risks.

The UoC notes that whilst independent system operators (ISOs) can currently check several conditions regarding the grid’s state, including the energy output of mixed renewable and non-renewable generators, they cannot do not have the technological ability to sufficiently assess or counter risk potential. 

Challenging old paradigms

Agostino Capponi, Professor of Industrial Engineering at the UoC and a member of the Data Science Institute (DSI), believes that this project will mark the beginning of a new chapter in energy management.

“Our reliance on risk management techniques constitutes a fundamental shift in the practice of power system modelling.

"We are challenging existing practices by bringing operations research methods based on optimisation, financial risk analytics and modern data science techniques into the hard-core engineering domain of power engineering.”

The optimisation presented by the newly proposed dashboard is certainly transformative: utilising accurate data-feeds, ISOs will be able to react to new developments within minutes or several days depending on the severity of the issue.

By grasping the fundamental risks of the grid, the US’ power supply could be made more efficient, reliable and flexible, with more renewable energy assets capable of being grafted onto preexisting infrastructure. 

“On the regulatory side, ISOs will use these metrics to design risk mitigation policies to prevent malfunctioning of the grid. Market participants, moreover, will use our metrics to plan their daily grid operation, and make sound decisions on energy storage and hedge against price fluctuations,” continued Capponi.

Bolstering America’s energy and security

With an experienced team of industrial engineers, physicists, mathematicians and computer engineers, the research is likely to produce top-echelon results. With the DoE previously announcing $25mn in funding for 10 projects focusing on energy management, it seems that the US is gearing up for an increasingly renewable energy-based grid.

“Ensuring the reliability of our nation’s critical energy infrastructure and electric grid is of the utmost importance to America’s energy security and national security,” commented Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes.

“Investing in new technologies and systems that minimise risk and bolster the reliability of US energy will allow us to utilise all of our abundant energy resources in a more integrated and secure manner.”

Finally, Daniel Bienstock, Professor of Applied Physics and Mathematics at UoC, part of the lead research team, stated that the opportunity to work on such an important infrastructure project was a pleasure and a privilege: 

“We will call upon our respective skills to design and deploy the risk dashboard for power systems.

“It’s a great privilege to be able to combine all our skills—operations, industrial engineering, risk management and data science techniques—to help America operationalise and streamline its power grid.”

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