US: University smart grid test-bed for distributed energy

smart grid test-bed distributed energy
ExoGENI is a de-facto method for monitoring and troubleshooting smart grids 

In the US, a research team led by North Carolina State University, together with partners from the Renaissance Computing Institute and the University of Illinois are developing a smart grid test-bed, using cloud computing resources to analyze smart grid data from distributed energy sources.

The project was launched in 2013 as an experiment to monitor and analyze the status of power grids in real-time.

Aranya Chakrabortty, assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the North Carolina State University, and principal investigator on the project, explained: “We want to show how processing, analyzing and monitoring power system data can be done using distributed architecture, instead of traditional centralized methods.”

The project will monitor data from thousands of sensors, known as phasor measurement units (PMUs), which are distributed across the transmission grid and connect a wide range of energy generating plants, including wind turbines and solar panels.

Smart grid powered by ExoGENI

The smart grid test-bed project leverages resources through a National Science Foundation (NSF) project, ExoGENI, which forms part of the Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI).

The ExoGENI testbed combines computation, storage and network capabilities with open cloud computing and dynamic circuit fabrics to address complex scientific and network engineering problems, according to a report on

It works by allowing researchers to link real-time sensor data to on-demand virtual computing resources at ExoGENI nodes across the U.S.

Sensors, which collect as many as 120 data points per second through high-speed networks with guaranteed bandwidth, can connect the data to computing resources at many sites – each site provisioned a ‘slice’ of virtual machines (VMs), which run algorithms to analyze and visualize data in real-time.

Researchers hope that the methodology can evolve into the de-facto standard method for monitoring and troubleshooting smart grids.

Mr Chakrabortty of North Carolina State University, said: “As the number of phasor measurement units in the North American grid grows exponentially over the next five years, such a distributed data processing architecture will become imperative for monitoring and control, and eventually for initiating actions to solve problems.”

Cyber-attacks on the grid

The smart grid test-bed project team are currently working with the University of Southern Carolina’s Information Sciences Institute, creating a project to mitigate cases of cyber-attacks on the grid.