Innovative Smart Grid Research at NMSU Makes Electric Power Systems More Efficient
NMSU has expanded its research, education, and outreach activities on smart grids thanks to an award by the National Science Foundation’s Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program. iCREDITS (interdisciplinary Center of Research Excellence in Design of Intelligent Technologies for Smart Grids) allows NMSU’s electrical engineering and computer science faculty to conduct research to enhance the efficiency of power distribution systems by optimizing four core components: 1) Energy production and delivery by developing a new paradigm that views energy as a commodity, which can be produced, stored, and exchanged, by not only power plants, but also other users who generate power through alternative energy sources such as solar panels; 2) Communication by developing an architecture consisting on three levels of hierarchy with bidirectional information flow between adjacent layers: a) physical layer consisting of agents of communicating devices such as smart meters, b) aggregation layer, which develops aggregation nodes for decoupling data from devices, and c) decision layer, a cloud of computing servers monitoring and optimizing the grid; 3) Coordination by developing an agent for each entity in the network (home, office building, factory, power plant) for controlling its power load, consumption, and transmission and coordinating how much power should be generated, consumed, and transmitted between agents; and 4) Monitoring by classifying in real-time different disturbances occurring in transmission and distribution networks in power systems, so that system operators can respond in order to maintain system integrity. Ultimately, achieving the goal of this project requires addressing the shortage of smart grids workforce. This project addresses this issue by developing a comprehensive interdisciplinary education and training pipeline for students (K 12/Undergraduate/Graduate). At the same time the outreach component of this effort aims to increase the participation of the Hispanic population, and women and other underrepresented groups in smart grids.
The ICREDIT project is led by co-directors Enrico Pontelli (Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences) and Satish Ranade (Chair, Klipsch School of Computer and Electrical Engineering). The sub-project leaders include Sukumar Brahma and Huiping Cao (Monitoring), Jay Misra and Hong Huang (Communication), William Yeoh and Son Tran (Coordination), and Susan Brown (Education and Outreach).