As more and more severe storms occur, UConn continues to develop more advanced technologies and resources to prepare communities for power outages and shorten restoration times.
The latest initiative – made possible by a recent $4.4 million federal grant – improves cities’ access to solar power and battery energy storage in the event of a hurricane or other power outage emergency. In addition, the project will create resources for Connecticut’s rural towns, where power often takes longer to restore.
The US Department of Energy has selected Eversource Energy Center associate director Junbo Zhao and his team for a $4.4 million award through the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Renewables Advancing Community Energy Resilience (RACER) program. The grant is designed to enable communities to use solar and solar-plus-storage to avoid power outages due to extreme weather and other events and to quickly restore electricity when it goes out.
“This is a strong indication of our faculty’s innovations in solar, battery energy, and power system research to benefit communities in Connecticut and beyond,” said Dean of the UConn School of Engineering. Kazem Kazerounian.
This project will develop and demonstrate a community predictive outage preparedness and active last mile visibility feedback autonomous restoration solution, called PROACTIVE, to achieve community resiliency using solar energy and other distributed resources. of energy.
“Due to the lack of accurate outage prediction tools, stakeholders face challenges in predicting infrastructure damages and their severity in advance, thus affecting outage preparedness,” said Zhao, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. “After severe events, there is also a lack of robust sensing and communication systems to allow quick assessment of infrastructure damage and availability of assets and energy resources to aid rapid restoration.
“This PROACTIVE project will develop and demonstrate a two-layer risk-aware preparedness and grid-aware safety, fair, coordinated, and automated restoration tools for stability of community energy to solve these challenges,” said Zhao.
PROACTIVE will be the latest in mitigation and restoration technology for the Eversource Energy Center, located within the Innovation Technology Building at UConn Tech Park. The Center uses its Outage Prediction Model to predict the impact of storms, using meteorological data to proactively position restoration crews ahead of bad weather.
“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face as a society, and the intensity and frequency of hurricanes will only increase,” said Pamir Alpay, UConn’s interim Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. “Working with our partners at Eversource, we are committed to developing technology and advancing research to improve our ability to mitigate the impact of these storms and keep Connecticut residents safe.”
For community resilience, this project will demonstrate that accurate pre-event preparedness powered by granular outage predictions can speed up the outage restoration process, such as crew member dispatch, resource allocation and coordination of local resources. The results of this project will directly inform community leadership about their needs to improve the stability of the energy system and evaluate potential solar and energy storage combined solutions.
Zhao says that’s where cooperation and coordination between different communities becomes an important ingredient. Through the program, a more affluent city like West Hartford with more solar and energy storage systems can provide a surplus of power to a neighboring city, like Hartford.
Zhao says his group is scheduled to meet with community leaders and stakeholders in West Hartford and Hartford to demonstrate the technologies and show how they can benefit the respective cities.
It will take three years to fully implement the program, Zhao said. This year is the research and development phase, followed by demonstration of the capabilities in communities and finally a rollout in the entire city served by Eversource.
UConn was selected as part of the Renewables Advancing Community Energy Resilience (RACER) funding program, an effort to increase the resilience of energy systems, increasing the readiness of communities to be resilient and rapidly recover from disasters. . PROACTIVE is one of several projects that will develop and demonstrate sensors and communication technologies capable of rapidly identifying available assets to re-energize a power system after a severe event. More information about selected projects can be found here.