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Binghamton University

Binghamton University Researchers Receive $1.2 Million Grant To Test Power Grid Stability

Nov. 15, 2023
Maintaining reliability is important as thermal power plants retire and more renewable energy sources join the grid.

A research team at Binghamton University of New York has received a $1.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to study the potential faults responsible for power failures, according to a news release by Chris Kocher in the BingUNews.


Ziang John Zhang will lead the team. He is associate professor at the university and a faculty member at the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.


“The dynamics of the current power system are dominated by synchronized generators that weigh many tons and put out a couple hundred megawatts each,” Zhang said in the article. “If there’s a fault, it will create a disturbance to the grid, but those are typically absorbed by the rotating mass of synchronous generators and there are multiple lines of defense that power system engineering has designed based on the electromechanical dynamics of these generators.”


BingUNews discusses that inverter-based resources such as solar, wind and storage follow different mechanism to convert different forms of energy into electricity, thereby exposing the grid to disturbances. With changing system conditions it becomes difficult for power system operators to resolve problems, while there are too many variables and uncertainties to manage reliably.


“In this project, we propose an energy-function-based approach that can tell us the stability boundary of the power system with many inverter-based resources,” added Zhang to Kocher. “The goal is to characterize the stability region of the grid without running numerical simulation.”


The team receives support from the New York Power Authority and includes experts in both power systems and power electronics who develop inverters for connecting renewable resources to the grid.


“Whatever theory or tools we develop during this work, we will test with NYPA in a simulated model on their system,” Zhang added.


Additionally, stability research can be used broadly in robotics, ecosystems, and optimization. While utility engineers will benefit with an online stability assessment tool, design guide for inverters will help assist the power electronics and power systems communities.


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