Decision-Support Software for Grid Operators

Boston University (BU)
Transmission Topology Control for Infrastructure Resilience to the Integration of Renewable Generation
ARPA-E Award: 
Boston, MA
Project Term: 
03/16/2012 to 06/30/2015
Project Status: 
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The U.S. electric grid is outdated and inefficient.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 BU team is developing control technology to help grid operators more actively manage power flows and integrate renewables by optimally turning entire power lines on and off in coordination with traditional control of generation and load resources. The control technology being developed would provide grid operators with tools to help manage transmission congestion by identifying the facilities whose on/off status must change to lower generation costs, increase utilization of renewable resources and improve system reliability. The technology is based on fast optimization algorithms for the near to real-time change in the on/off status of transmission facilities and their software implementation.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, BU's technology could save between $1-2 billion in annual generation costs, enable more renewable energy to be incorporated into the grid and reduce or delay the need for new transmission investments.
A more efficient, reliable grid would be more resilient to potential disruptions from failure, natural disasters, or attack.
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.
Active grid management could ease transmission congestion which costs the U.S. an estimated $4-8 billion each year.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact: 
Pablo Ruiz
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