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OVERCOMING THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGES OF COORDINATING DISTRIBUTED LOAD RESOURCES AT SCALE

University of Michigan
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$2,900,000
Location: 
Ann Arbor, MI
Project Term: 
06/12/2019 to 06/11/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Distributed energy resources (DERs) offer more flexible generation technologies located close to the loads they serve. They offer significant potential for providing services to the power grid. When DER control methods are applied at scale, technical challenges may include key network constraints, communication cost and performance trade-offs, and rare but catastrophic instability issues. This project will examine issues that might arise in practice when large aggregations of DERs are coordinated and determine how loads can be managed to achieve performance objectives efficiently and cost-effectively.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

The University of Michigan will develop load-control strategies to improve grid reliability in the face of increased penetration of DERs and low-cost renewable generation. As the electricity generation mix changes to include more renewables and DERs, load shifting is essential. Today, there are few load-shifting strategies in use at grid scale that are capable of balancing current levels of intermittent energy production. The team will develop three testing environments to identify issues the grid faces with increased levels of energy from distributed and renewable generation. Their method could improve credibility for load-control mechanisms at scale and lower costs to power providers and consumers alike.

Potential Impact: 

This project will establish credibility for load control at scale, improve the economics/reliability of the grid, and contribute to U.S. energy security and environmental goals.

Security: 

Load coordination can help integrate intermittent renewable energy resources, like wind and solar, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the nation's energy independence and security. 

Environment: 

The project will facilitate balancing electric loads to displace gas- and coal-fired generating technology, which will significantly reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants.

Economy: 

The project aims to achieve typical balancing services performance requirements at a low enough cost to incentivize the load aggregator and customer to participate in the services or impacted energy markets, respectively.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Kory Hedman
Project Contact: 
Prof. Johanna Mathieu
Partners
University of California, Berkeley
Pecan Street
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Release Date: 
11/15/2018