Power & Energy

The North American power grid is a complex interconnected system of multiple interconnected components including transmission lines, distributions systems, power plants, and renewable energy sources that has often been referred to as the largest man-made machine in the world. There are numerous research and educational challenges to address the technical and societal challenges with operating and managing the grid. In Hawaii there are additional challenges with our current heavy reliance on fossil fuels, environmental concerns, and the high cost of electricity. Research includes the optimal design of power systems with large shares of renewable energy sources. This includes demand-side management of user resources such as electric vehicles, air conditioners, water heaters, and appliances based on forecasts of renewable energy generation. Tools used include optimization, approximate dynamic program, and reinforcement learning to learn customer behavior and machine learning methods to forecast renewable energy generation.

Research and education in the power and energy area is a multidisciplinary area and we have the Renewable Energy and Island Sustainability (REIS) group that brings members from engineering, social science, and other disciplines to consider broader technical and societal problems. These include energy resiliency, the effect of the power grid on climate change, and the integration of power systems research with other engineering infrastructure systems such as transportation and water systems.

Specialties

  • Demand Response
  • Power System Planning
  • Renewable Energy
  • Smart Grid

Faculty