The centralized power grid that we have relied upon since the early 1900s has become outdated and unreliable. Widespread blackouts due to extreme weather, the variability of available energy from renewable sources such as solar or wind, and the rise of distributed energy resources all add a level of complexity that the power grid was not originally designed to handle.
With more utility scale solar and battery storage, solar on rooftops, and an increasing number of electric vehicles plugged into homes and workplaces, the electric grid is evolving in a distributed fashion. Understanding the impact of these distributed energy resources, designing strategies to deal with the evolving grid, and developing technologies to ease the transition are all part of our strategy.
The following research groups are focused on solutions to help transform the electricity grid:
- The Grid Integration Group develops analysis tools and cyber-secure methods for designing and controlling grids with distributed energy resources.
- The Energy Conversion Group is focused on finding ways to make hydrogen a viable solution.
- The Energy Storage Group works to advance next-generation battery technology and improve energy storage capabilities that can integrate with the power grid.
- The Applied Energy Materials Group is focused on developing materials for a next-generation electric grid.
- The Thermal Science Group is developing economical building-to-city scale thermal energy storage technologies that will enable the deep penetration of intermittent renewable energy sources into the grid, improve the thermal efficiency of buildings, and make buildings responsive to grid fluctuations, all of which will help buffer against blackouts and fluctuating power demands.