GE’s electrical engineer Naresh Acharya is working on a system that could one day help utilities predict the amount electricity generated by inherently unpredictable renewable resources like wind and sun, and send as much of it as possible over the grid to consumers.
Acharya is using software to predict and balance the electricity generated by renewables and the amount of power used by consumers. The software must aggregate and control thousands of customer loads in real time and match them with production projections. “We want to create a scenario that never puts a damper on the grid or the clean power that’s delivered to homes,” Acharya said.
The research is partially funded by the U.S. government’s Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). “The goal of ARPA-E’s program is to enable a grid that can reliably manage a power mix where nearly half or more is supplied by renewables,” Acharya says.
Acharya and ARPA-E are working on this project together with GE Energy Consulting, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Enbala Power Networks, Consolidated Edison, Inc., Southern California Edison, Sacramento Municipal Utility District and California Independent System Operator.
The results will be presented at ARPA-E’s annual Energy Innovation Conference this week in Washington, D.C.
Acharya said that in recent years, renewable power was the global leader in bringing new generation online, adding more than 100 gigawatts of wind and solar in 2014 alone. Countries like Denmark are already generating 40 percent of their electricity from wind.
“We need to get visibility to bring all this energy into our home,” Acharya said. “We can’t control the weather, but our software will help us control the electricity it generates.”