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Monday, October 14, 2019

Campus

UH engineering professor wins awards for energy proposals


Xingpeng Li won $70,000 for his proposals to the Department of Energy. | Courtesy of Xingpeng Li

Xingpeng Li won $70,000 for his proposals to the Department of Energy. | Courtesy of Xingpeng Li

A UH professor of electrical and computer engineering won government awards for two separate proposals to fix the nation’s electric grid.

Xingpeng Li, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, won $70,000 for two proposals he submitted to the Department of Energy’s Electricity Industry Technology and Practices Innovation Challenge. The challenge, which was hosted for the first time this year, was set up by the DOE to find better practices for the electric industry and solutions for growing problems with energy usage. 

“Renewable power generation isn’t completely controllable, so we need better procedures to handle the uncertainty,” Li said in a news release.

The DOE does not directly manage the electrical industry, Li said, so there’s no telling if his proposals will be put into practice. With the awarded money, he plans to hire one to two graduate students to work on his proposals. 

Li’s two proposals aim to address the uncertainty in electricity generation, both in our present grid and in the future with renewable resources like solar and wind power. 

“The amount of electricity produced by solar panels largely depends on solar radiation that cannot be perfectly forecasted and it cannot be controlled, which is the main difference between variable renewables and traditional generating resources,” Li said. 

Li’s first proposal addressed the energy management system and the issue of integrating renewable resources into a system where electricity must be “used, produced, and transferred all at the same time.” 

The abstract of the proposal covers the idea of “microgrids” that could feed into the larger grid when necessary. 

“This idea proposes a novel energy management strategy for networked microgrids so that they can operate as grid-friendly controllable and responsive loads from the perspective of bulk power systems,” the abstract of Li’s first proposal said.

The second proposal regards longer term planning of renewable’s uncertainties and the growing demand for energy. 

“The increasing deployment of renewable generation will dramatically change the system generating resources and power flow distributions in the transmission network,” the abstract of the second proposal said. 

Li’s proposal acknowledged that the aim of longer term planning meant maintaining the supply to an expanding base of energy consumers.

“Power system long-term expansion planning aims to ensure continuous power supply to consumers in a reliable, efficient and affordable way,” the abstract said. 

However, Li’s proposal also said that the current plans tend to be rigid. 

“Existing power system planning tools do not acknowledge the flexibility in transmission networks and treat transmission elements as static assets in the planning models,” the abstract said. 

Li’s proposal plans to use the flexibility of the grid to relieve some of the issues. 

“Past research efforts have demonstrated that utilizing the flexibility in the transmission network can benefit the system in various aspects such as congestion relief, reliability enhancement and facilitation of renewable grid integration,” the abstract said.

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