The IGERT trainees, led by Curtis Saunders, were awarded $11,000 by the UVM Clean Energy Fund to conduct a campus-wide seminar series on smart grid energy systems during the Spring 2015 semester. The seminar series features six nationally-prominent speakers talking on different aspects of renewable energy and consumer behavior, as well as a documentary film at the conclusion of the series. Seminar speakers have included scientists and engineers from the University of Minnesota, the University of California at Berkeley, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Los Alamos National Lab, Indiana University, and Argonne National Lab.
IGERT Trainee Receives Grant on Energy Consumption of Apartment Renters
In May 2014, trainee Dan Fredman was awarded a $38k grant from the UVM Clean Energy Fund to study interactive effects of real-time electricity consumption feedback and incentives to reduce consumption in student rental homes. Treatment groups receive an In-Home Energy Display and smartphone app, with a financial reward if daily or peak-time electricity consumption decreases. Dan has worked with city officials, university staff, and the energy services, power systems and IT teams at the local utility to implement the study. In Fall 2014, a 6-home pilot was conducted to choose the IHD provider. In Spring 2015, study recruitment, IHD deployment/collection, and data sharing processes are being tested. The study is expected to run until Spring 2016. Through this IGERT-supported research, local utilities are finding opportunities to innovate, the city gains valuable information to support sustainable development, and the university increases student energy literacy.
IGERT students have published an impressive number of papers in the past year, many of which in prestigious journals in their fields. For instance, Bob Swain and Emily Cody both published papers in PLoS ONE, covering topics such as crowdsourcing and EMILY’S PAPER TOPIC. Curtis Saunders and Melissa Faletra published their research on wind power and interacting particle flows, respectively, in two articles in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics. Goodarz Ghanavati and Pooya Rezaei published a series of papers in IEEE Transactions on Power Systems on power systems instabilities and cascading blackouts. Tom McAndrew published a paper in Physical Review E on robustness of networks with failure governed by a percolation model where the failure of each link is proportional to its spatial length.
The Smart Grid IGERT program was highlighted in a recent article “In Search of the Smart Grid” by Joshua Brown in the Vermont Quarterly Magazine. The article discusses a number of initiatives related to the smart grid and renewable energy in Vermont in addition to the IGERT program. Included is the new $10M Stafford Hill Solar Farm in Rutland, operated by Green Mountain Power and distinguished as the first all-solar microgrid in the Nation. Also discussed is the $138M Eenergy Vermont Project, funded half by DoE and half by Vermont ratepayers, which made Vermont the first state-wide smartgrid in the Nation. The full article is available here: In search of the Smart Grid
The IGERT trainees received intensive training on public speaking o general audiences presented during the Fall 2014 semester in partnership with a public speaking course at a local high school. After viewing videos discussing techniques of public speaking and a seminar from the teacher of the public speaking course on communicating with high school students, the IGERT students broken into three groups to develop 15-minute talks dealing with different aspects of smart grids and their effect on society. One talk envisioned a cross-country road trip in a Tesla and discussed where you might charge the vehicle and what renewable energy systems you might visit along the way. Another talk examined the potential land use impact in Vermont required to generate the State’s energy from different types of energy sources, raising the point that many types of sustainable energy require large amounts of land to generate significant amounts of energy. A third talk featured a ‘debate’ on the benefits and disadvantages of use of digital technology for energy systems, which is at the heart of the smart grid. The talks were refined with faculty input and delivered to an audience of about 30 students in a high school public speaking class. The high school students each gave feedback on the talks after they were given.
The Smart Grid IGERT program took a trip to the Kingdom Community Wind Farm on Lowell Mountain in September, 2014. The wind farm, operated by Green Mountain Power, is the largest in Vermont. On the way home, we stopped to eat and drink at Lost Nation Brewery, one of the many excellent mini-breweries that help Vermont maintain its international reputation for quality craft beer and food. Kingdom Community Wind Farm
Hines Interviewed in National Public Radio
UVM professor and IGERT co-PI Paul Hines was interviewed by Dan Bobkoff on National Public Radio on August 14, 2013. The interview was part of a story about the 10th anniversary of the large North Eastern electric blackout of 2003, and the ways in which the power industry has changed to avoid future blackouts. The full story is available here: 10 Years After The Blackout, How Has The Power Grid Changed?
Student Internships at Sandia National Labs
Summer time has come for the UVM IGERT program! In mid-May, four of our IGERT trainees began their ten-week summer internship at Sandia National Labs (SNL), located on the Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, NM. One additional trainee is conducting his internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, located nearby in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The students will be spending the summer working at the lab with their national lab mentor, both furthering their dissertation research and broadening their knowledge of smart grids. During the summer internships, the students will have the opportunity to participate in the Energy Surety Program at Sandia, through which they will hear seminars by Sandia energy researchers and visit many unique energy research facilities. Students will also participate in a short course on cognitive sciences at Sandia experts in modeling human behavior and decision-making processes.
UVM IGERT presents at Board of Trustees Meeting
On May 17, 2013, the UVM IGERT program was invited to present at the UVM board of trustees meeting. Dr. Jeffrey Marshall presented an overview of the UVM Smart Grid IGERT program and of Smart Grids in general. Other IGERT faculty presenting included Dr. Paul Hines, Dr. Maggie Eppstein, Dr. Chris Danforth, and Dr. Asim Zia, who discussed examples of specific research that is occurring within the UVM IGERT program.
Algae for Biofuel Workshop
The UVM IGERT program hosted a workshop on Algae for Biofuel on April 24, 2013. This event was organized by the bioenergy program of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) and included a series of talks and discussions from researchers at UVM and other parts of Vermont, who are working on algae biofuel research. Click here to find out more about the exciting bioenergy work taking place in Vermont, including from members of our IGERT program: https://www.youtube.com/user/VermontBioenergy.
Regional Test Center Meeting
On April 5, 2013, the UVM IGERT program hosted an informational workshop on thePhotovoltaic (PV), Regional Test Center (RTC) (http://pvrtc.org/test-centers/) that is currently being built at the IBM site in Williston, VT, with project oversight by Sandia National Laboratories. This testing site will be one of five photovoltaic test facilities in the United States that is funded by the US Department of Energy. The purpose of the regional testing centers is to study the reliability over time of different solar panel designs that are subjected to realistic environmental conditions. The focus of the Williston RTC is on the study of solar energy in cold and humid climates characteristics of Vermont and northern New England. Thirty representatives attended the meeting from 19 different schools and companies such as, VermontLawSchool, MiddleburyCollege, VELCO, Green Mountain Power, Dynapower, SNL, and IBM. Presentations were given on the RTC, the UVM Smart Grid IGERT program, and the ongoing PV work at Sandia National Laboratories. There were also discussions on how the research and development that will result from the RTC can be used, and on how students at universities across Vermont can become involved in this research and development. Two IGERT faculty serve on the RTC steering board, along with representatives from IBM and Sandia.
UVM IGERT trip to UMASS and ISO New England
At the end of February the UVM IGERT students and faculty took a trip to Massachusetts where they visited the UMass Amherst IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program and ISO New England (http://www.iso-ne.com/). At UMass, students from the two IGERT programs were able to meet and discuss current research in their closely related fields. In addition to this, the UVM IGERT students toured the UMass IGERT facilities and got a close-up look at the offshore wind energy research on-going at the University of Massachusetts. Following the UMass visit, the UVM IGERT group traveled to ISO New England, which manages electricity generation and transmission thoroughoutNew England. The IGERT group met with ISO New England employees to learn about the work that they do, and then took a tour of the ISO New England power grid control room.