Balancing electricity supply and demand is challenging, and the prospect of blackouts carries a substantial economic risk. An engineer with the University of Houston is working on solutions.
Xingpeng Li, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, submitted two winning proposals to the U.S. Department of Energy's Electricity Industry Technology and Practices Innovation Challenge. The winners were announced Wednesday. In all, seven projects at six institutions were selected; Li is the only researcher with two winning submissions.
DOE, through its Office of Electricity, launched the competition to identify ways new technologies to improve current electric industry practices. Li's projects deal with both real-time and longer-term planning to improve grid performance, in part by developing ways to accommodate the vagaries of harnessing power from the wind and sun.
"Renewable power generation isn't completely controllable, so we need better procedures to handle the uncertainty," he said. "The current planning model assumes no uncertainty, but in reality, there are always forecasting errors, and the planning model needs to be able to account for that."
Li received $70,000 for the two projects. DOE sought ideas from industry, academia and other innovators to address existing or emerging threats to the electric sector and awarded more than $300,000 for the seven winning proposals.
Li's proposals include:
This is the first year for the competition, which DOE officials said will be funded again for 2020.