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K-State Today

April 25, 2016



Engineering research project may allow future consumers to 'buy and sell' electricity

By Mary Rankin

With falling prices and increased awareness in creating a sustainable future, higher numbers of consumers are choosing to install roof-top solar generation. To make effective use of this trend, utilities companies are contemplating real-time pricing of electricity, which is expected to usher in a new generation of active consumers engaged in buying and selling electricity.

To aid in this outcome, Anil Pahwa, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Kansas State University, is leading a research team effort that focuses on development of an architecture that will require little change to the existing investment in power distribution systems. It allows for the dynamic, adaptive control required to integrate active consumers with current and future combinations of high-variability distributed power sources such as solar generators and storage batteries.

The project — which includes participating K-State faculty members Scott DeLoach and Dan Andresen, computer science; Bala Natarajan and Sanjoy Das, electrical and computer engineering; and Philip Gayle, economics — "CPS: Synergy: Architecture for Future Distribution Systems Including Active Consumers with Rooftop Solar Generation" is funded by a three-year, $700,000 National Science Foundation grant.

The team's expected outcome will be a general, extensible, plug 'n' play-type, secure cyber architecture based on holonic multi-agent principles that provide a pathway to the emerging area of a transactive energy market in power distribution systems.

"The resulting gains in operating efficiency, economics, reliability and security of power distribution systems, along with integration of green power will result in better overall welfare for society and the environment," Pahwa said.

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