Automated Grid Disruption Response System

Texas Engineering Experiment Station
Robust Adaptive Topology Control (RATC)
Graphic of Texas Engineering's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$4,898,405
Location: 
College Station, TX
Project Term: 
03/01/2012 to 06/30/2015
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
The U.S. electric grid is outdated and inefficient. There is a critical need to modernize the way electricity is delivered from suppliers to consumers. Modernizing the grid's hardware and software could help reduce peak power demand, increase the use of renewable energy, save consumers money on their power bills, and reduce total energy consumption--among many other notable benefits.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
The RATC research team is using topology control as a mechanism to improve system operations and manage disruptions within the electric grid. The grid is subject to interruption from cascading faults caused by extreme operating conditions, malicious external attacks, and intermittent electricity generation from renewable energy sources. The RATC system is capable of detecting, classifying, and responding to grid disturbances by reconfiguring the grid in order to maintain economically efficient operations while guaranteeing reliability. The RATC system would help prevent future power outages, which account for roughly $80 billion in losses for businesses and consumers each year. Minimizing the time it takes for the grid to respond to expensive interruptions will also make it easier to integrate intermittent renewable energy sources into the grid.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, the RATC system would protect the grid from costly interruptions and enable renewable sources of electricity generation to continue supplying power.
Security: 
A more efficient, reliable grid would be more resilient to potential disruptions from failure, natural disasters, or attack.
Environment: 
Enabling increased use of wind and solar power would result in a substantial decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.--40% of which are produced by electricity generation.
Economy: 
A more efficient and reliable grid would help protect U.S. businesses from costly power outages and brownouts that stop automated equipment, bring down factories, and crash computers.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact: 
Dr. Mladen Kezunovic
Partners
Applied Communication Sciences
Arizona State University
Grid Protection Alliance
Tennessee Valley Authority
University of California Berkeley
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory