Increasing Energy Efficiency Using Rapid Smart Grids

Project Purpose

To reduce electrical demand and consumption of rural electric communities through research and education.

International Country Partners

DeMontfort University (UK), Universidade Estadual Paulista (Brazil)

Focus Area

Urban sustainability, energy efficiency, power quality

There were five main focus areas of the Smart Grids project: reduce demand, increase power quality, introduce feedback methods, investigate energy independence, and establish continuing research and engagement. Since the aim was to develop the research framework that could be expanded to a global scale, the Consortium for Rapid Smart Grid Impact (CRSGI) members have developed various tools and straightforward processes that can be replicated in other countries. Through community engagement and energy management training materials, the project has reduced demand by providing tutorials for conducting energy audits and peak energy shaving techniques. Power quality has increased after conducting voltage sag and swell studies and integrating renewable energy options through assessing a community’s wiring practices. In order to evaluate their impact, feedback methods such as consumer surveys and agent based modeling tools were introduced. A given community’s potential for energy independence was evaluated through economic analysis for energy cooperatives and community engagement. Finally the research and engagement focus was developed broadly by CRSGI, and these research tools brought real world smart grid problems to labs for engineering analysis.

In order to reach these aforementioned goals, the project team created a research, deployment, demonstration, development framework to ensure maximum impact on the societies. Among a few tools introduced in this framework were gaming and social media systems for energy conservation, hybrid grid emulators, and PowerFactory based simulation construction. Faculty, students, and industry personnel participated in continuous improvement through exchange programs, applied research, workshops, and symposium. From 2014 to 2016, the project boasted 205 students who were able to participate in development of these tools, five peer reviewed journals published, and nine training workshops for CRSGI.

The Consortium for Rapid Smart Grid Impact held its first Symposium in February 2015 in Guaratinguetá, Brazil. Since then, the consortium has expanded to consist of four community partners in Brazil, three academic partners, and seven industry partners spanning all three partner nations. New memberships are available to universities, industries, and communities at three levels: Global Impact Member, Country Impact Member, and City Impact Member. Institutions will achieve one of these membership levels and have expectations according to amount of cash or equipment donations, contribution of new academic collaborations, and introduction of community based monitoring and enlistment projects. Members will have access to ready to use consumer survey tools, research findings, analysis tools, power grid simulation tool, hands-on workshops, effective use of new technologies, feedback tools, conservation tools, and more. To become a member, please contact N. Athula Kulatunga at nkulatun@pnw.edu.

Dept of State