Carnegie Mellon University

Smart Grid Research

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Center To Be Housed at CMU

Smart Grid

Carnegie Mellon University will host a new Smart Grid Research Center as part of a $5 million industry-academic partnership with the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world's leading university-industry research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies.

The new partnership, called the Energy Research Initiative (ERI), will team energy-related companies with university researchers to address the world's need for smart alternative energy sources and equip students with the technical skills required for the new burgeoning industry.

The ERI, managed by the SRC subsidiary The Energy Research Corp. (TERC), will initially address two critical areas for efficient generation and distribution of renewable energy resources:

  • photovoltaics and systems engineering and
  • technologies to enable and optimize smart grids.

Pradeep K. Khosla, University Professor and dean of Carnegie Mellon's College of Engineering, said the new initiative is designed to develop reliable, affordable, secure, clean and efficient energy systems, and help provide students with the expertise and skills needed to move these new technologies into the marketplace.

"The Smart Grid Research Center at Carnegie Mellon will support the incorporation of renewable energy resources and provide modeling, simulation and control tools needed to manage, optimize and secure the power grid," said Ed Schlesinger, head of CMU's top-ranked Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Marija Ilic, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and engineering and public policy at CMU and director of the university's Electric Energy Systems Group, will be the director of the Smart Grid Research Center. Ilic said the Smart Grid Center is driven by the vision that it is critical to transform today's operating and planning industry practices to serve much more complex objectives than in the past.

"Smart Grids are needed to enhance sustainability, which is a careful tradeoff between reliability (lights staying on), short-and-long term efficiency (cost of electricity), greenhouse gas emissions reduction (a cleaner world), and financially sound innovation and deployment of unconventional technologies that will help create employment opportunities," Ilic said. "For these objectives to co-exist, it is critical to engage in multidisciplinary engineering systems of smart grids."

According to Ilic, instead of relying on worst-case designs, much can be achieved by transforming electricity service into just-in-time (JIT) and just-in-place (JIP) services.

Ilic also reports that a smart grid could eliminate some of the widespread problems like blackouts that have plagued many of the nation's aging systems and caused economic hardship for users.

"There's a lot of talk about upgrading equipment, but what we really need is to upgrade other things, like computer programs and communications that make it all work," Ilic said. "The timing is right since utilities are pursuing major pilot projects to deploy sensor and measurement technologies necessary to implement new types of electricity services."

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