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Research to Help Add Solar to the Grid

October 6, 2017

Ali Abur, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern University’s College of Engineering, was recently awarded a $792K grant from the Enabling Extreme Real-time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) funding program. Abur’s research was one of 13 projects selected by the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy SunShot initiative, which is focused on enabling grid operators to access up-to-the-minute measurement and forecasting data from distributed energy sources and optimize system performance using sensor, communication, and data analytics technologies.  

The research project led by Abur aims to develop and implement a comprehensive state estimation framework to facilitate combined monitoring of transmission and distribution systems in order to utilize highly volatile power received from a very large number of solar photovoltaic (PV) units at the distribution feeder nodes.

Professor Abur commented, “The research will develop tools to accurately monitor a large number of solar power sources in distribution systems enabling their efficient integration and dispatch under varying operating conditions.”

The project has the potential to enable DOE to establish new planning and real-time operations platforms by enabling:

  • Efficient dispatching of PV sources by increasing their observability at the distribution and transmission level
  • Accurate monitoring of the interactions between the transmission and distribution systems
  • Development of a “scalable distributed computational framework” for implementing robust power system state estimation techniques in very large scale distribution and transmission systems.  
  • Detailed modeling and integration of VSC based solar PV unit interfaces in state estimators 
  • Seamless integration of results from multiple estimators that use multi-phase distribution feeders with solar PV units and balanced positive sequence transmission system models

Learn more about the SunShot initiative.