Advancing the Electric Grid
The electric grid was designed with the assumption that all energy generation sources would be relatively controllable, and grid operators would always be able to predict when and where those sources would be located. With the addition of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which can be installed faster than traditional generation technologies, this is no longer the case. Furthermore, the fact that renewable energy sources are imperfectly predictable means that the grid has to adapt in real-time to changing patterns of power flow. We need a dynamic grid that is far more flexible. This video highlights three ARPA-E-funded approaches to improving the grid’s flexibility: topology control software from Boston University that optimizes power flow, gas tube switches from General Electric that provide efficient power conversion, and flow batteries from Harvard University that offer grid-scale energy storage.