Thrust Area

The Future Grid to Enable Sustainable Energy Systems

Research Thrust Areas and Tasks

The Future Grid Initiative is structured into six thrust areas identified by PSERC as important for shaping the future grid that enables renewable generation technologies. An overview of the directions of the research in each thrust area is contained in the white paper “Technology Challenges in Designing the Future Grid to Enable Sustainable Energy Systems” (June 2012) written by Vijay Vittal, PSERC’s Director.

Click on the links below to view research papers, posters and presentations associated with each area.

Thrust Area 1: Electric Energy Challenges of the Future

Gerald T. Heydt, Arizona State University: “Several key electric energy engineering challenges are addressed by bringing innovative engineering technologies to bear on:  the integration of renewable resources into the system; the direct digital control of the system; the maximization of the use of sensory information to use the assets that we have; and the integration of plug in electric vehicles.”

Thrust Area 1 White Paper: [PDF 918KB] (May 2012)


Thrust Area 2: Control and Protection Paradigms of the Future

Chris DeMarco, University of Wisconsin-Madison: “The objective of this area is to develop the principle of hierarchical coordinated control and protection of the smart power grid. In doing so we keep in mind that a major goal is to incorporate more renewable generation resources while increasing reliability and efficiency.

Thrust Area 2 White Paper: [PDF 1.6MB] (May 2012)


Thrust Area 3: Renewable Energy Integration – Technological and Market Design Challenges

Shmuel Oren, University of California-Berkeley: “The research under this thrust area aims at understanding and quantifying the impact that massive integration of wind power will have on the power system in terms of efficiency, operational reliability, economic consequences and environmental outcomes.

Thrust Area 3 White Paper: [PDF 812KB] (May 2012)


Thrust Area 4: Workforce Development

Chanan Singh, Texas A&M University: “The objective of this thrust is development of educational tools to meet the needs of the current and future engineers that will be managing these complex cyber-physical systems as well as innovators who will bring future transformations.”

Thrust Area 4 White Paper: [PDF 452KB] (May 2012)


Thrust Area 5: Computational Challenges and Analysis Under Increasingly Dynamic and Uncertain Electric Power System Conditions

Carlos Grijalva, Georgia Institute of Technology: “The integrated grid will require new operational decision-making tools that include the uncertainty issues that will come from a highly integrated grid but that can also benefit from the availability of massively detail data from PMU, AMI, and IED’s.  This area will develop a) New data, analytics, and information systems for critical decision making, and b) New optimization methods that address uncertainty.”

Thrust Area 5 White Paper: [PDF 734KB] (May 2012)


Thrust Area 6: Engineering Resilient Cyber-Physical Systems

Tom Overbye, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: “In the Future Grid, resiliency will be measured by the ‘ability of a system to gradually degrade under increasing system stress, and then to return to its pre-disturbance condition when the disturbance is removed.’ A resilient power grid should not experience a sudden, catastrophic system collapse, but rather should be able to adapt and maintain some level of system service even in the event of severe system disturbances. We will:

    • Engineer the cyber-physical infrastructure to deal with low frequency, but high consequence events (Geomagnetic events such as in 1921)
    • Develop practical applications of detailed black-out data to quantify and mitigate possible cascading failure events.
    • Identify how increased system monitoring can improve power grid resiliency from an operations point of view.”

Thrust Area 6 White Paper: [PDF 620KB] (May 2012)