For the first time in our nation’s history, two hurricanes (Harvey and Irma) devastated inland and coastal areas, prompting an all-hands emergency management and community response for rescue, assessment and restoration. At the writing of this news story, over 5.8 million customers were without power across the southeast in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Long before this year’s hurricane season officially began on June 1, researchers at the Eversource Energy Center were analyzing storm and utility infrastructure characteristics to predict outages from hurricanes and other storm types. Severe weather is among the leading causes of outages on the overhead electric distribution grid, and historic events like Storm Irene (2011), the October nor’easter (2011), and Hurricane Sandy (2012) were the springboard for improved emergency preparedness, response and mitigation strategies. Adequate planning before these disasters can relieve emergency preparedness issues with predictions of storm damages and the expected length of time before power is restored. Such preparation positions utilities to allocate equipment and personnel more efficiently, and the public can better manage their expectations about when the power will return.
The UConn Outage Prediction Model (OPM) predicts an upcoming storm’s impact, including the number and location of outages, so that a utility can proactively dispatch crews before storms arrive, and provides intelligence as to whether outside crews should be put on standby or called in. The OPM is trained by state-of-the-art high-resolution weather simulations for more than 160 storm events, spanning over a decade (2005 – 2017), occurring during different seasons and representing various severities (from isolated thunderstorms to hurricanes). The model learns from each storm that the service territory experiences.
Hurricane “Did You Knows?”
UConn faculty and students in the Eversource Energy Center summer research fellowship program on “Power Grid Resilience to Severe Storms in a Changing Environment,”visited Berlin recently, to see first-hand how their research at the Center directly benefits electric utility operations. A tour of Berlin including CONVEX, the Systems Operations Center and the Incident Command Center, and a networking session with Eversource project leads for storm outage forecasting, power grid resilience and vegetation management, increased the students’ awareness of the importance of their research in minimizing power interruptions and maximizing our restoration success when interruptions do occur. Our Center has awarded five Center-funded fellowships to undergraduate students this year from Yale, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State University and UConn. In mid-July 2017 the students will present the research results to Center management, UConn faculty and Eversource leads.
Here are the projects underway and the participating students:
The Eversource Energy Center at the University of Connecticut hosted its biannual Research Forum on April 27, 2017, with all Center researchers and Eversource Energy technical leads. The stars of the event were 12 Center-funded research projects spanning electric grid hardening, storm outage forecasting, climate change and flooding, grid resilience and tree and forest management.
The Forum included dynamic visual displays and discussions with researchers on their findings and the benefits for electric grid reliability and performance. Each presentation is included below.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — Plymouth State University is partnering with Eversource to develop a power outage prediction model to predict when storms will strike and the extent of the damage they may cause.
The new research partnership connects Plymouth State to the Eversource Energy Center at the University of Connecticut. Plymouth State offers the only meteorological academic degree program in New Hampshire, and the new project will build on its previous research on weather-related outages.
Officials say the partnership will provide students with valuable hands-on training.
Deep in the woods behind Horsebarn Hill is a lab made up of various species of trees shifting and swaying under the New England elements – ice, snow, wind, and torrential rain.
The state-of-the-art sensors on the trees produce data as they move, biomechanics information that is valuable to a team of researchers from UConn and Eversource Energy Center. With that information, they hope to enhance emergency preparedness during storms, and reduce and shorten outages during storms.
The $9 million grant from Eversource, which will be spread out over five years, contributed to a record year in fiscal 2016 for the UConn Foundation’s fundraising for research, more than doubling its prior record year. Over the past three years, gifts and grants for research have grown dramatically from $7.1 million in 2014 and $9.6 million in 2015, to $25.3 million in 2016.
These totals are just a fraction of UConn’s nearly $250 million annual research enterprise, which includes federal grants, but they – like the trees the researchers are monitoring – are an important part of the landscape.
Industry partnerships like the Eversource project fund researchers and teach graduate students research skills while leveraging the research capabilities of the state’s flagship public university. Together, they support economic growth in Connecticut and lead to innovative discoveries, said Joshua Newton, president and CEO of the UConn Foundation.
“The partnerships provide valuable research for companies, as well as scholarships and fellowships for the students and faculty doing the research,” he said. “They are helping to build the next generation workforce by training researchers and scientists – and often hiring them.”
UConn is also teaming up with industry leaders in the life sciences to develop new healthcare technologies and therapies. New Haven-based Alexion Pharmaceuticals and UConn recently announced a joint fund to develop life-saving therapies for patients with rare and devastating diseases.
The new fund expands upon existing research collaborations between faculty and Alexion. David Goldhamer, a professor of molecular and cell biology, for instance, identified the cell type responsible for a group of rare and disabling disorders, and has developed disease models that can be used to test new potential therapies.
Collaborations between UConn and industry have led to innovations in several fields, including precision medicine, sustainable technology, diagnostics, advanced materials and additive manufacturing, software, polymers and composites, bioinformatics, drug development and delivery, biomedical devices, nanotechnology, and cybersecurity.
New UConn startups and external technology ventures can also find the physical space and business support they need in UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP), which has two major locations, in Storrs and at UConn Health in Farmington.
“A critical part of UConn’s research mission is to support the development of innovative technologies coming out of University labs that could benefit Connecticut’s citizens and grow the state’s economy,” said Jeffrey Seemann, UConn’s vice president for research. “We’ve seen very positive growth in the area of technology commercialization over the past several years, and we’re confident the trend will continue, as UConn supports University startups and fosters new and existing relationships with our industry partners.”
With the Eversource partnership, researchers are working in the air as well as on the ground. Engineers are using laser technology images from planes to create 3-D computer models of a neighborhood trees and phone, cable, and power lines. The outcome: a snapshot of tree growth rates that can impact utilities.
Leveraging the expertise of UConn’s faculty, post-doctoral and graduate researchers, and industry partners, experts are building the electric grid of the future.
“The grid of the future will be unlike anything we’ve encountered, with smart homes, smart cities, and an intelligent, interactive, automated grid,” said Ken Bowes, vice president of transmission performance at Eversource Energy. “With our partnership with UConn, our vision for the Eversource Energy Center as a scientific, research, and operational hub is a reality. Our Center is ready to lead these important conversations, driving the innovations and advances that will create the grid of the future.”
This article is re-posted from “UConn Today”, see the original article here: http://today.uconn.edu/2017/03/research-landscape-private-funding-grows/
Background: The Eversource Energy Center at the University of Connecticut is offering an interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program focused on Power Grid Resilience to Severe Storms in a Changing Environment
Timing: 8 week program – May 22 – July 14, 2017
Application Deadline: April 15, 2017
Who?: Open to upper level (rising Junior or Senior) undergraduate students from any College or University
Project Topics include: Click here for more information on each of the topics listed below!
For more information, please visit the Eversource Energy Center Website: https://www.eversource.uconn.edu/
Or, contact the program director Dr. Marina Astitha: firstname.lastname@example.org
On Friday, March 3, 2017, in a feature article on the importance of industry and university collaboration, the Eversource Energy Center is highlighted for its successful partnership with UConn. Established in October 2015, our Center is leading research for the region and industry in the areas of storm outage modelling, tree and forest management and electric grid hardening “With our partnership with UConn, our vision for the Eversource Energy Center as a scientific, research, and operational hub is a reality,” said Ken Bowes, Eversource Energy Vice President – Transmission Performance. “The grid of the future will be unlike anything we’ve encountered, with smart homes, smart cities, and an intelligent, interactive, automated grid. Our Center is ready to lead these important conversations, driving the innovations and advances that will create the grid of the future.” For the full UConn article, click here: http://uconnalumni.com/2017/03/02/from-forest-labs-to-rare-diseases/