How CAPER’s Research Program Works
CAPER sponsored research projects are developed and selected through an industry-university collaborative process. University researches and industry members meet together to discuss issues, challenges and needs for the future. A research solicitation is then circulated throughout the membership and teams of researchers, typically from two or more CAPER universities, develop proposals in conjunction with industry advisors. These proposals are reviewed and evaluated by industry members and recommendations for funding are made to the Center Steering Committee. At the Fall meeting of the Industry Advisory Board (IAB), presentations are made on the recommended proposals. The IAB then votes on its final slate of projects recommended for funding. The Center Director works with members of the Center Steering to make the final selections of projects to be awarded.
Industry members pay annual membership fees that support the base research program. Additional supplementary membership funds can be made available and applied to targeted projects that are consistent with CAPER’s mission and objectives. This type funding is often used to expand the scope of an existing project, fund a particular project that did not make the cut, extend an existing line of research and support field demonstrations or trial use of data by a particular CAPER member.
CAPER Research Themes
CAPER’s comprehensive research program spans Power Delivery Infrastructure and Systems, Power Utilization and Energy Efficiency, Power Generation, Storage and Integration, Data Management, Analytics and Security, Energy Policy, Markets and Economics.
Power Delivery Infrastructure and Systems
The electrical utility industry is experiencing major changes from its historical business structure of a vertically integrated utility to a combination of several different models. However, the basic function of the industry, to produce and to deliver power, safely and reliably, has not changed. New government Standards and Regulations have created uncertainty that is driving unprecedented change in the infrastructure, from distribution to generation. Additionally, pressures continue to reduce the cost of the electricity to support economic growth.
This theme of research focuses on maintaining and improving the performance of T&D systems by finding new applications for innovative technologies, integrating an increased penetration of distributed generation resources during normal operations while improving resiliency to extreme weather impacts and other disturbances on power delivery systems.
Potential research topics include:
- PMU data analytics
- Asset management
- Renewable integration
- T&D automation
- Grid Resiliency
- Physical & Cyber Security
Power Utilization and Energy Efficiency
An important part of the overall national energy strategy addressees the efficient and smart end-use of electric energy. Smart distribution systems and advanced data analytics will be researched in this theme to meet increasing customer demands, higher penetration of distributed renewable resources and the emergence of retail electricity markets.
The main focus of this theme is to improve the efficiency, visibility, and controllability of end use energy consumption. In addition, technology development will have to consider the customer’s acceptance and participation. Therefore, this theme will also address the psychological and social behavioral influences and human-machine interactions. Questions to address are :
- How to improve customer participation and customer satisfaction of demand response and energy efficiency programs?
- How to evaluate possible behavioral changes when customers adapt a new technology?
- How to evaluate whether or not those changes can sustain (last instead of fading away over time)?
Possible research ideas include:
- Educate customers to increase their awareness of different programs
- Develop awarding or pricing schemes to encourage customers to use more efficient appliances or participate demand-side energy management programs for shifting energy uses and integration of renewable generation resources
- Develop demand response algorithms (centralized, distributed, and autonomous control algorithms) from the customers’ perspective
- Develop distributed grid intelligence for providing a platform to implement the control, coordination and management of the grid resources at different levels
- Develop forecasting algorithms for residential and commercial loads as well as distributed generation resources
- Develop advanced data analytic tools for the customers to manage home and building uses for monitoring device malfunctions, providing suggestions for different ways of consumption, safety and security, etc.
- Evaluate the quality, potential, and impact of the DR and efficiency programs
- Possible impacts of new loads (EV)
- Adoption of demand response programs
- Customer awareness, acceptance, and satisfaction
Power Generation, Storage and Integration
Societal changes have put much pressure on conventional means of generating electricity. Initial studies indicate that these developments will create additional challenges on current generation through increased cycling, ramping and assuring reserve requirements. New types of resources are anticipated to grow in their market size, including energy storage and price-responsive demand resources that are more flexible than traditional response programs. New generation sources are being developed with a heavy emphasis on renewables such as photovoltaic (PV) solar systems and wind-based generation. However, these sources present many challenges to the reliability and operation of the power grid due to their intermittency and ultimately in uncertainties in their capacity. The integration of large-scale storage with these renewable resources requires much research, development and demonstration. In this theme of research, optimal strategies to manage distributed resources with integrated storage will be developed and demonstrated.
Research areas will broadly cover:
- Integration of PV resources to the grid
- Integration and Optimization of energy storage resources
- Automatic adaptive computing for grid operations
- Integration of alternative resources
- Scheduling and operation of variable generation resources
- EMP protection as p/o renewable technology design
Data Management and Analytics
New technologies and the wide-spread application of small-scale component sensors and data collection equipment have greatly increased the amount of available data, but the challenge is how to manage, use and act on huge amount of system data. Universities have played a major role in the development of foundation theories that have led the industry to new devices and systems in the past. This research focus area offers the opportunities to study the increasing amount of available data and identify new phenomena that can lead to the development of new devices and operating practices. This theme of research will focus on innovative data management, visualization, data mining, forecasting, decision-support and optimization approaches. In addition, performance metrics and other advanced analytics will be developed.
Possible research ideas include:
- Exploring the value of emerging data sources, such as Phasor Measurement Unit, satellite data, weather stations, and social media.
- Data security, reliability and adequacy criteria
- Real-time security assessment, preventive and corrective control
- Risk-based and cost-based analysis, design and planning
- Cyber-security, wide-area monitoring, control and real-time measurements
- Interpretation of empirical data
- Estimation and validation of theoretical models using econometric methods, financial engineering approaches, statistical analysis and artificial intelligence
Energy Policy, Markets and Economics
The electric power industry in the US and worldwide is undergoing a major transformation. It is changing from a vertically integrated industry in which generation, transmission and distribution systems are owned by single entities to dispersed ownership with separation of the generation and delivery functions. In this new structure, planning, scheduling and operations are being coordinated through markets. However most utilities in the southeast region of the US have stayed with the traditional structure of vertical integration of the generation and delivery of electric energy. While the southeast region needs to be aware of what is occurring in the industry, research into to renewable integration, planning and operations in the current structure must not be overlooked. Along with the rest of the industry, southeast utilities will be facing challenges of adapting to new state and federal regulatory requirements that address climate change and energy security. Requirements such as increasing the use of renewable energy to 20%, 33%, or more of total energy resources within the 2020 to 2030 timeframe, and reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by 50-80% by 2050, will have profound implications for the electric utility industry as a whole.
Possible topics in this research theme include:
- Determine the level of stochastic generation penetration on active distribution networks
- Including EVs
- Consider the impact of DERs on utility operations
- What are the specific models to explore (static/dynamic/other)
- What policies would be needed
- Determine the value of energy storage (non-PSH)
- Technical/economic/market tools needed to evaluate storage options to handle variability
- Design Pricing schemes (new/modified) for renewable generations
- Net metering model – does this work?
- Newer models – are there better models?
- What is the true value of solar and other grid-tied distributed generations?
- What is the true cost of generation (utility or customer-owned)?
- What is a fair price for utility and customer?
- Include environment impact
- Develop Microgrid valuation methods
- What are the possible islanding conditions?
- What are the possible technical reasons for islanding?
- Serving critical loads
- What are some non-technical reasons for islanding?
- Understand the economics of CHP with DER
- Design clean power plan compliance solutions
- Single state/multi-state solution
- Best plans for compliance