New York Institute Awarded Grant to Study Effect of Renewable Energy on Distribution Grid

November 09, 2006

The New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR) has awarded a $1.23 million grant to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, to examine how the electricity distribution grid might be impacted by the widespread adoption distributed and intermittent renewable energy generators. NYSTAR Executive Director Michael J. Relyea presented a check to Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson and members of the research team on November 8 at an energy forum in Colonie, New York, hosted by Rensselaer’s Center for Future Energy Systems (CFES).

The two-year project is designed to help understand the potential effects of meeting the New York policy goal of generating 25 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2012. The award is being made through the NYSTAR Centers for Advanced Technology, which supports university and industry collaborative research and technology transfer in commercial-relevant technologies.

Rensselaer researchers plan to develop a test bed on campus to which they can attach a number of simulated renewable energy sources along with equipment that is susceptible to fluctuations in power output. According to CFES Director Nag Patibandla, renewable energy sources are sensitive because of the inverters that convert direct current to alternating current. The goal is to understand how the distribution grid functions when connected to varied electricity-generating renewable resources. The study will take into account sensitive loads such as high-power computer systems, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in traffic lights, and wastewater treatment plants.

For more information, see the Rensselaer November 8 press release.