ERCET research in the field of energy focuses on topics like upscaling smart grids and seismics in fossil fuel extraction areas.
The model used to be simple: there were a few big energy producers (electrical power plants) and many consumers (households, industrial installations). Reality is forcing this model to change dramatically. There is an increasing drive to feed electrical power grids with distributed power sources, ranging from commercial power supply to locally produced green energy. People who generate their own solar or wind power, for instance, want to be able to feed their surplus into the public grid and be compensated for it on their energy bill. Nevertheless, stability of frequency and voltage level is still a key requirement for electrical power grids in our modern society.
There are several research streams underway to get a better grasp of how a power grid consisting of many smaller, fluctuating energy producers (such as solar and wind-power installations) can be coupled with consumers' typical user patterns. Past and ongoing projects cover topics such as:
At the UoG's ITM, a project has been set up which deploys small computers at every consumer location (a node) to predict and control behavior of the electrical grid. By only performing local communication with the next neighbour, this distributed system has shown to achieve stable operation for small grids, of a few 10's to 100 nodes. Simulation of significantly larger collections of nodes is expected to yield similar results, but these simulations cannot be performed with the current IT-setup.
We will investigate in-depth the current simulation setup and develop a more optimal simulation system which itself can scale to many thousands of nodes interacting. Achieving this would yield significant insights into how these networks of interacting nodes can contribute to a stable future power grid with many more small energy producers.