U.S. academics model power distribution networks to generate savings


Clemson, SC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — December 10, 2008 – A research team at Clemson University is developing mathematical models of the smart grid with a view to energy efficiency and saving.

The research, which is being supported with $285,000 from Itron, is aimed at optimizing the metering and communications.

The interdisciplinary research team is being led by Taufiquar Khan and Irina Viktorova, professors in mathematical sciences at Clemson University.

“The challenges of modeling and system identification of the smart grid lies in the fact that the network is vast, complex, time variant, non-linear and noisy,” said Khan. “By noisy, I mean the millions of light bulbs, computers, televisions, appliances, heaters and electrical motors going on and off contribute to the disorderly pattern of variations of voltage, current and impedance of the AC network. Therefore, we are working on mathematical solutions to optimize metering and communications.”

Khan cites other potential money-saving scenarios such as keeping the thermostat set higher than normal during hot summer days when no one is home or programming the dishwasher for a midnight cycle, all for a discount on the next power bill.

“The metering and communication data provide excellent opportunities for applied mathematical and statistical modeling and will lead to greater efficiencies in the energy industry,” said mathematics department chairman Robert Taylor, senior adviser to the project. “The involvement of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students in this endeavor is directly aligned with the research and instructional missions of our department and university.”