ECE Research Team is one of 10 Selected for U.S. Department of Energy Award

ECE Research Team is one of 10 Selected for U.S. Department of Energy Award
New Research Project

A team of ECE researchers led by Professor Badrul Chowdhury has been selected for a $4.8 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to improve the resilience and reliability of the regional grid.

This project is part of a collaborative effort among the North Carolina state government, utility companies, industry and universities to develop an advanced microgrid control architecture. It will be able to coordinate seamlessly with the bulk power grid at multiple points of common coupling, automatically balance load and generation, provide critical services at a minimum, detect faulty conditions on a continuous basis, communicate with distributed energy resources, form networked microgrids with neighboring communities when needed and maintain safe operating conditions at all times. A field demonstration at Duke Energy's Hot Springs microgrid is planned and real-time data streamed to the Smart Grid Laboratory in the EPIC building, where the proposed control architecture will be tested utilizing a unique digital-twin approach, as shown in the figure.

The digital twin will allow multiple remote partner laboratories to be connected through PI connect. The feeder models constructed in OpenDSS/HELICS; partial feeder models included in RTS Adaptive microgrid protection will implemented in the Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing. Scenarios will be developed to simulate partial/complete loss-of-communications and specific cyberattacks.

This project was selected as a part of the SETO Fiscal Year 2020 funding program, is one of ten systems integration projects chosen nationwide, that will enhance solar energy's contribution to grid resilience and reliability by enabling communities to consistently maintain and restore power, improving cybersecurity for photovoltaic systems, and developing advanced hybrid plants.