Researchers generate electric power savings

Dec 08, 2008

Imagine being away over the holidays with most of the electric power in your home turned off while the neighbors host their holiday guests, using lots of electricity.

During this peak season of electric power use, wouldn't it be nice to get a substantial discount on your next bill for not putting a heavy load on the local electric power network?

The challenge to accomplish this involves accurate metering at the different points of consumption and reliable communications between all electric meters and the local electric utility.

"Smart meters" and "advanced-metering infrastructure" technologies could provide a solution for this problem. As a result, with the ability to monitor the entire power grid in real time, the utility can ensure uninterrupted service, improve distribution efficiency, save energy and reduce operating costs.

An interdisciplinary research team led by Taufiquar Khan and Irina Viktorova, professors in mathematical sciences at Clemson University, is developing mathematical models of complex power-distribution networks. The research effort is funded by $285,000 from Itron Inc., a leading technology provider and critical source of knowledge to the global energy and water industries.

"The challenges of modeling and system identification of the smart grid lies in the fact that the network is vast, complex, time-variant, non-linear and noisy," said Khan. "By noisy, I mean the millions of light bulbs, computers, televisions, appliances, heaters and electrical motors going on and off contribute to the disorderly pattern of variations of voltage, current and impedance of the AC network. Therefore, we are working on mathematical solutions to optimize metering and communications."

Khan cites other potential money-saving scenarios such as keeping the thermostat set higher than normal during hot summer days when no one is home or programming the dishwasher for a midnight cycle, all for a discount on the next power bill.

"The department of mathematical sciences is very excited about the cooperative work with Itron Inc. and we expect that this initial study is just the beginning of a long-term partnership," said mathematics department chairman Robert Taylor, senior adviser to the project. "The metering and communication data provide excellent opportunities for applied mathematical and statistical modeling and will lead to greater efficiencies in the energy industry. The involvement of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students in this endeavor is directly aligned with the research and instructional missions of our department and university. We are also committed to tackling the problems relevant to Itron."

"We are very pleased that Itron Inc. has chosen Clemson as its research partner in pursuit of this important goal," said Chris Przirembel, Clemson University vice president for research and economic development. "Improvements that increase energy efficiencies and cut costs are of value to individuals and to businesses. The research has far-reaching implications."

Source: Clemson University

Explore further: Geometry's least-packable shapes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Quantum many-body systems on the way back to equilibrium

Feb 23, 2015

Considering that one cubic centimetre of matter already contains about 1019 to 1023 particles, it is hard to imagine that physicists nowadays can prepare ensembles comprising only some hundred, or even just ...

Fishing vessel transformed into a wave power plant

Feb 10, 2015

Is it possible for a redundant fishing vessel to be used as a power plant? Absolutely! The first vessel of its kind is now anchored offshore in the Stadthavet area west in Norway, with the aim of generating ...

New smart grid control decentralizes electricity supply

Feb 02, 2015

To improve the management of fluctuations in the electricity supplied by solar and wind installations, the electricity network needs to work more intelligently in the future. Electricity suppliers aim to ...

Recommended for you

How big data can be used to understand major events

14 minutes ago

With the most unpredictable UK general election looming in modern times, how can big data be used to understand how elections are covered by the media? New research has for the first time analysed over 130,000 ...

Cities have memory and interact with their neighbors

22 minutes ago

Demographic changes in large cities depend on millions of individual decisions, but the population evolves depending on two factors: what 'reminds' them of their recent past and the existence of other urban ...

New (road) signs of the times?

4 hours ago

Traffic accidents claim lives, cause injury and cost money. Working on ways to reduce them is a constant battle.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.