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Clarkson University 's Wu Awarded Three Energy-related Federal Grants

Clarkson University Associate Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering Lei Wu has been awarded three three-year grants, all focused on supporting a reliable, sustainable, and resilient future power grid. One grant is from the U.S. Department of Energy, starting this month, and the other two are from the National Science Foundation, both starting in January 2017.

Lei Wu Wu's research and teaching areas are in power and energy system optimization and control, with specific interests in the modeling of large-scale power systems. His work involves developing mathematical models and computer simulation tools for the planning and operation of future power and energy systems with a deeper penetration of renewable generation sources.

The natural gas system and the electricity grid are becoming more interdependent, he notes, because gas-fired generating units are valuable assets to firm up volatile and uncertain wind and solar energy, while requiring adequate gas fuel supply from the natural gas infrastructure.

Communications networks for effectively monitoring and controlling energy systems also figure into his investigations. “We share the results of our research with power and energy industry so they can improve infrastructure, operations strategy or policy,” says Wu.

The Department of Energy award is part of an overall $1.8 million package for fundamental research to address the risk and uncertainty of the power system. Academic institutions in California, Iowa, New York, and Texas each have specific topics to explore.

The DOE describes Wu's project this way: “Clarkson University will develop a decision-support tool that augments existing power utility capabilities to support collaborative planning, analysis, and implementation of emerging variable and distributed power systems and help effectively mitigate risks and uncertainties in both short-term operation and long-term policy/technology changes. This tool will assist power market participants, utilities and regulatory agencies in analyzing economic, reliability, and sustainability issues when considering options for planning new and upgraded transmission facilities to accommodate existing and emerging generation sources.”

One NFS grant will explore the resilience of community microgrids and how to enhance the availability of electricity supply during disruptions, by developing an integrated reconfigurable control and self-organizing communication framework.

The other focuses on the co-optimized planning of the electricity grid and the natural gas network, for ensuring environmentally friendly, reliable, and cost-effective production and delivery of energy.

“We have research teams,” Wu says. “For the Department of Energy grant, we subcontract work to colleagues at the University of Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh. For one of the NSF grants, we have three other co-principal investigators, including two at the University of Ottawa. The other NSF grant is a collaborative research project with the colleague at the University of Pittsburgh.”

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

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