Dynamic Power Flow Controller

Compact Dynamic Phase Angle Regulators for Transmission Power Routing
Graphic of Varentec's technology
ARPA-E Award: 
San Jose, CA
Project Term: 
01/03/2012 to 01/02/2015
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The U.S. electric grid is outdated and inefficient.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: 
Varentec is developing compact, low-cost transmission power controllers with fractional power rating for controlling power flow on transmission networks. The technology will enhance grid operations through improved use of current assets and by dramatically reducing the number of transmission lines that have to be built to meet increasing contributions of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. The proposed transmission controllers would allow for the dynamic control of voltage and power flow, improving the grid's ability to dispatch power in real time to the places where it is most needed. The controllers would work as fail-safe devices whereby the grid would be restored to its present operating state in the event of a controller malfunction instead of failing outright. The ability to affordably and dynamically control power flow with adequate fail-safe switchgear could open up new competitive energy markets which are not possible under the current regulatory structure and technology base.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, Varentec's transmission controllers would allow the electric grid to dynamically adjust to changes in energy supply and demand--improving the efficiency of the grid and enabling renewable energy sources to continue supplying power.
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.
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.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact: 
Dr. Deepak Divan
Georgia Institute of Technology
SPX Transformer Solutions (Waukesha Electric Systems)