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Synthetic Data for Power Grid R&D

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

Synthetic Data for Power Grid R&D

ARPA-E Award: 
Champaign, IL
Project Term: 
06/20/2016 to 12/31/2018
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Several emerging issues, including the resiliency of electric power delivery during extreme weather events, expanding use of distributed generation, the rapid growth of renewable generation and the economic benefits of improved grid efficiency and flexibility, are challenging the way electricity is delivered from suppliers to consumers. This grid of the future requires advances in transmission and distribution system management with algorithms to control and optimize how power is transmitted and distributed on the grid. However, the development of these systems has been hindered because the research community lacks high-fidelity, public, large-scale power system models that realistically represent current and evolving grid characteristics. Due to security and privacy concerns, much of the real data needed to test and validate new tools and techniques is restricted. To help drive additional innovation in the electric power industry, there is a need for grid models that mimic the characteristics of the actual grid, but do not disclose sensitive information.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), with partners from Cornell University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Arizona State University will develop a set of entirely synthetic electric transmission system models. Their 10 open-source system models and associated scenarios will match the complexity of the actual power grid. By utilizing statistics derived from real data, the team's models will have coordinates based on North American geography with network structure, characteristics, and consumer demand that mimics real grid profiles. Smaller models will be based on smaller areas, such as part of a U.S. state, while the large models will cover much of the continent. All models and their scenarios will be validated using security-constrained optimal power flows, with parameters tuned to emulate the statistical characteristics of actual transmission system models.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, the UIUC project will accelerate the development of new power system optimization algorithms by enabling more comprehensive and transparent testing. New grid optimization algorithms could increase the grid's resiliency and flexibility, improving its security during extreme weather and other threats. Moreover, the team's technology could enable greater integration of renewable electricity onto the grid, which would help reduce reliance on carbon-emitting, fossil fuel generation. Finally, the project could lead to greater efficiencies for grid operators and power generators and therefore help reduce operating costs.

ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Patrick McGrath
Project Contact: 
Dr. Peter Sauer
Arizona State University
Cornell University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Release Date: