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Autonomous, Decentralized Grid Architecture

Georgia Tech Research Corporation
ARPA-E Award: 
Atlanta, GA
Project Term: 
01/11/2012 to 02/15/2015
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Graphic of Georgia Tech's technology
Critical Need: 
Several emerging trends, including the rapid growth in renewable generation and greater emphasis on improving grid efficiency and resiliency, are leading to 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: 
Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a decentralized, autonomous, internet-like control architecture and control software system for the electric power grid. Georgia Tech's new architecture is based on the emerging concept of electricity prosumers--economically motivated actors that can produce, consume, or store electricity. Under Georgia Tech's architecture, all of the actors in an energy system are empowered to offer associated energy services based on their capabilities. The actors achieve their sustainability, efficiency, reliability, and economic objectives, while contributing to system-wide reliability and efficiency goals. This is in marked contrast to the current one-way, centralized control paradigm.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, Georgia Tech's distributed control architecture would help integrate significantly more renewable energy into the grid.
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.
This technology will enable more renewable generation to enter the market and meet growing demand. It will also enable consumers to receive payment for the electricity they generate.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Timothy Heidel
Project Contact: 
Dr. Carlos Grijalva
Release Date: