EPIC receives grant to partner on power grid research

Thursday, December 19, 2019

UNC Charlotte's Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC), the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have received a $300,000 competitive award from the U.S. Department of Energy for a joint, two-year project to consider developing a centralized energy grid to effectively support critical services in the case of power outages. 

Rob Cox“The cost to society after a major weather-related disaster can be far greater than the cost required to invest in resilience, but unfortunately, there are not good methods or metrics to evaluate these investments,” said Robert Cox, associate director of EPIC.

The two-year project, “Planning an Affordable, Resilient and Sustainable Grid in North Carolina,” will include opportunities for interested stakeholders to review metrics developed by the research team and to provide input into an advanced grid scenario focused on enabling a more decentralized resilient grid, including micro/mini grids that can support critical services, such as hospitals, in the case of power outages. 

EPIC will analyze outage data provided by Duke Energy following major weather-related disasters that have impacted North Carolina over the last several years. Once this baseline information is known, EPIC will consider the potential impact of Duke Energy’s proposed grid-hardening measures, including distribution automation and undergrounding power lines. The team will consider the potential impact of the advanced grid scenario that would include incentives for micro-grids and other advanced technologies. 

“The NCCETC will lead an initial stakeholder meeting in mid-2020 to seek input into and comment on the technical and economic analysis on the improved and advanced scenarios,” said Anne Tazewell, NCCETC special project program manager.

A second meeting will provide stakeholders opportunities to consider a third scenario that will include the technical, policy and economic analysis conducted, while taking into account future affordability, reliability and resilience. Finally, a roadmap that combines the techno-economic analysis and stakeholder input will be developed to help inform future utility resilience related processes.