Major portions of the US electric grid are half a century old, and compared to other infrastructure, the adoption of new technology into the US grid has been relatively slow. This slow adoption of technology compared to other sectors such as telecommunications has been attributed to the reason that the existing grid is 99.97% reliable and therefore should not need upgrading. However, its structure and topology are relatively inflexible since its underlying framework was designed assuming unidirectional flow of power, control and
Major portions of the US electric grid are half a century old, and compared to other infrastructure, the adoption of new technology into the US grid has been relatively slow. This slow adoption of technology compared to other sectors such as telecommunications has been attributed to the reason that the existing grid is 99.97% reliable and therefore should not need upgrading. However, its structure and topology are relatively inflexible since its underlying framework was designed assuming unidirectional flow of power, control and information. As a result of this inflexible structure, integrating common renewable energy sources such as solar and wind into the grid is prohibitively expensive and unwieldy. Also, electric vehicles, now having been introduced in several markets of the country especially California, present major challenges when plugged into the grid.
A smart grid would allow two-way power flow, two-way communications flow and two-way control flow. This will allow the grid to be more flexible, smart, self-healing, resilient, and efficient. To enable such a grid, a host of advanced technologies such as information technology, wireless and mobile devices, sensor and control systems, etc., have to be architected and integrated into the existing grid. Research at UCLA's Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC) focuses on the integration capability of such technologies between the medium voltage distribution grid and the consumer's interface into the grid.
Research is being performed on the creation of smart grid services that are aggregated from consumers and offered through a distribution network in a smart grid. The fundamental idea is to aggregate services at the consumer's level with the permission and control of the consumer and then enable these aggregated services into utility-grade offerings. For example, if sufficient numbers of electric vehicle (EV) owners allow their local utility to extract power from their EVs during peak-demand periods, the utility should be willing to offer customers incentives to do so. An intermediate enterprise that aggregates 100 EVs with a nominal 6.6KW charging capacity / EV would be able to offer a 0.66MW Demand Response service into the local regulatory markets. Beyond this service, vehicles with bi-directional power flow can theoretically offer up to10x the power while discharging for short periods of time, which would imply a 6.6MW short-term, aggregation service capability. With 1000 EVs in a region, this capacity can in principle reach 66MW, which is approximately UCLA's peak power consumption. With about
20,000 cars parked in UCLA on a typical day, if in the future 5% of its vehicles were EVs, UCLA could participate in a short-time period micro-grid market and should be able to completely operate off-the-grid for a window of time without cutting power consumption in its facilities.
UCLA SMERC is been developing a wireless monitoring and control platform called WINSmartGridTM (Wireless Internet Smart Grid) that is currently being deployed in parts of UCLA called the UCLA Smart Grid Living Lab. Also, UCLA SMERC is a participant in a DOE-ARRA regional demonstration project and is experimenting with research concepts in Automated Demand Response, EV Integration (G2V and V2G) and Micro-grids using the WINSmartGridTM platform within the Living Lab. The research platform accepts inputs from electrical loads such as EVs or air-conditioners, ambient condition sensors such as temperature, humidity or occupancy sensors, and grid operator / grid condition input. It is the platform on which an EV monitoring, aggregation and control network has been developed. Research is being performed on models of aggregation under constraints of user, utility and facility, verification of such models, network architecture and performance verification for regulatory/market service, and, wireless-based monitoring and control systems and middleware in Smart Grids. The talk will present research and technical opportunities and challenges, upcoming market opportunities and their challenges, and current research progress at UCLA's Smart Grid Energy Research Center.
Dr. Rajit Gadh is Professor of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at UCLA, and, Founder and Director the Smart Grid Energy Research Center or SMERC. Dr. Gadh has a Doctorate degree from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), a Masters from Cornell University and a Bachelors degree from IIT Kanpur all in engineering. He has taught as a visiting researcher at UC Berkeley, has been an Assistant, Associate and Full Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was a visiting researcher at Stanford University.
Dr. Gadh's current research interests include modeling and control of Smart Grids, wireless monitoring and control of distribution-side and consumer-side electric grids, automation architectures for Demand Response, EV Integration architecture and control system, optimized EV charging under constraints, Vehicle-to-grid and Grid-to-grid interface, Micro-grid modeling and control, and, wireless-sensor and RFID middleware architectures.
Dr. Gadh's research at SMERC is currently funded by DOE (UCLA is partnered with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power along with USC, and, JPL/Caltech for a regional demo grant, Korean Institute for Energy Research (KIER), EPRI (funded by DOE), and the UCLA Smart Grid Industry Partners Program consisting of 18 industry sponsors.
He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. He has received the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award, NSF Research Initiation Award, and, NSF-Lucent Industry Ecology Fellow Award, Society of Automotive Engineers Ralph R. Teetor Educational award, IEEE WTS second best student paper award, ASME Kodak Best Technical Paper award, AT&T Industrial ecology fellow award, Engineering Education Foundation Research Initiation Award, the William Mong Fellowship from University of Hong Kong, and other accolades in his career. He has lectured and given keynote/distinguished addresses worldwide in countries such as Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain, Holland, Hong Kong, Japan, S. Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and, Thailand. Dr. Gadh serves as advisor to a handful of technology-based startups.