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TRANSFORMATIVE: SDSU Associate Professor Selected for Groundbreaking Renewable Energy Project
South Dakota Ag Connection - 03/28/2024

Tim Hansen, the Harold C. Hohbach Endowed Associate Professor in South Dakota State University’s Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering, has been selected to help lead a groundbreaking initiative to revolutionize how power systems interact and adapt in an increasingly renewable energy-rich landscape.

The project is one of 11 selected for funding from the United States Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technology Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

“The ongoing global energy transition requires proactive solutions capable of harnessing resource flexibility under the uncertainty of renewable energy resources, such as solar, while fortifying the power grid’s reliability, resilience and sustainability — especially in the face of disruptions from severe weather and other high-impact events,” Hansen said. “This initiative will transform power grid operations and pave the way for large-scale deployment of clean energy technologies.”

The multi-disciplinary team is strategically located across the U.S. but will be led by principal investigator and project director Zongjie Wang from the University of Connecticut. The team also includes researchers from the University of Utah, the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Raytheon Technologies Research Center.

Historically, the U.S. electric grid has been operated at the “transmission level,” with independent system operators (ISOs) dispatching resources — like natural gas and coal — from large power plants to serve the electricity needs of its consumers. In such a model, the distribution system, including the one utilized by Brookings Municipal Utilities, is not visible nor controllable by the system’s operators. As distributed energy resources (DERs) — like rooftop solar power and battery storage — become more common and with the incorporation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Order No. 2222 from 2020, which allows distributed energy resources to be used in transmission system operations, how energy resources are allocated will improve dramatically through the work of this project.

Titled under the acronym “TRANSFORMATIVE” (Transmission and Distribution Systems with Flexible and Optimal Coordination: Resilience, Modeling, and Technologies for a VRE and DER-Integrated Adaptive Energy Grid), the research team seeks to develop the next generation of operation and planning tools that system operators need to efficiently use of distributed energy resources, utilizing data visualization to display information in their control rooms. The work will include advanced research and development to create optimization and coordination technology and a developed software tool for the first-of-its-kind coordinated operation of transmission and distribution systems that are crucial for realizing the goals of FERC Order No. 2222.

If successful, the project is poised to significantly enhance the grid’s capacity to utilize renewable energy, thereby accelerating the expansion and use of clean energy.





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