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Smart Microgrids to Help Data Centers, Farm Communities ­se Locally Produced Power


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A microgrid power management system can integrate solar and wind power, generators and battery storage to provide consistent, reliable power to consumers in a remote area.

Researchers and students at South Dakota State University are working on the development of smart power management technologies to take advantage of renewable power sources.

Credit: South Dakota State University

A team of researchers and students at South Dakota State University's (SDSU) department of electrical engineering and computer science are working to develop smart power management technologies that will enable communities and businesses to use locally-produced renewable energy as part of a consistent, reliable power system.

SDSU's Wei Sun and Reinaldo Tonkoski say one of the drawbacks of renewable power sources such as wind and solar is that they are inconsistent, with the amount of power they generate at any given moment fluctuating based on factors such as time of time, cloud cover, and wind conditions. This is a problem for power systems that require a stable and steady supply of electricity.

The researchers' goal is to develop an algorithm that will determine how and when a given power source can be efficiently used in sustainable energy system in conjunction with batteries and backup generators. Such technology is especially important in allowing data centers to make use of renewable power. Tonkoski notes data centers require a highly reliable power supply and the smart grid technology being developed by SDSU will be able to meet those needs.

The researchers also hope to apply their work to self-healing smart grids, tools that will make it easier for utilities to restore power quickly following a blackout.

From South Dakota State University
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