A groundbreaking collaboration between researchers at the University of Connecticut (UConn), Eversource Energy, and major technology vendors aims to unlock the untapped capacity of the existing regional electric transmission system. By deploying innovative real-time grid-enhancing technologies, the project seeks to support the seamless integration of renewable energy sources across the Northeast region and the rest of the country.
The UConn’s Eversource Energy Center spearheads the project, which recently received a significant boost from the U.S. Department of Energy. As one of the four grant recipients under a federal program, the project aims to develop technologies that enhance grid reliability, optimize electricity infrastructure, and facilitate the grid connection of renewable resources.
Led by Junbo Zhao, an assistant professor at UConn and associate director for grid modernization and strategic partnerships at the Eversource Energy Center, the project sets out to securely and reliably integrate massive offshore wind and other renewable energy projects into the existing transmission systems. This aligns with state and national decarbonization goals.
To achieve these objectives, the project will introduce solar-powered dynamic line rating (DLR) sensors along the existing transmission lines in Massachusetts. These sensors, strategically placed along a 20.26-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line between Carver and the Cape Cod Canal, will collect real-time data on factors such as ambient and conductor temperature, line angle, and wind speed. These data points will enable researchers and utility operators to accurately calculate the load-bearing capacity of the transmission lines at any given time and under any given conditions.
Traditionally, grid operators have managed their systems conservatively, transmitting a lower amount of power than the system’s capacity to maintain security and reliability margins. The project aims to demonstrate how DLR sensors can help grid operators maximize the existing transmission system’s load-bearing capacity. By optimizing power flows through circuits based on real-time limits, more renewable energies can be securely and reliably integrated without the need for costly investments in new transmission lines.
The research team believes that by leveraging advanced technologies to utilize the unused capacity within the grid, this project can set a precedent for the rest of the country. If successful, this approach can be replicated in other regions, ultimately accelerating the integration of new sources of renewable energy, such as offshore wind, into existing transmission systems.
The federal grant, amounting to $2.1 million, will contribute to the project’s total projected cost of $3.7 million. Industry partners, including Eversource Energy with a $1.1 million commitment, will fund the remaining balance. The project’s outcomes will be shared with the industry, providing new insights and findings to stakeholders, and supporting the United States’ ambitious goal of achieving 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity.
This collaboration between UConn and industry partners exemplifies the potential of federal funding to leverage state and local initiatives to drive innovation. By addressing pressing challenges in renewable energy integration, the project aligns with UConn’s commitment to promoting sustainable and clean energy research.
What is the objective of the project?
The project aims to optimize the existing regional electric transmission system to accommodate the integration of renewable energy sources, such as offshore wind, without the need for costly investments in new transmission lines.
What technology will be deployed in the project?
The project will deploy solar-powered dynamic line rating (DLR) sensors along existing transmission lines in Massachusetts. These sensors will collect real-time data on various factors to calculate the load-bearing capacity of the transmission lines.
How will the project benefit the broader industry?
The project’s outcomes and findings will be shared with the industry, providing valuable insights for stakeholders involved in renewable energy integration. The project aims to serve as a leader, demonstrating how advanced technologies can maximize the capacity of existing transmission systems across the country.