ABOUT US

 

At Power Engineering Laboratory (PEng Lab), our research fills the gap between renewable integration and grid resilience, while contributing to the technological and policy interventions required to allow robust prosumer participation in the future distribution systems---the epicenters of the grid-edge revolution. The mission is to build a sustainable and inclusive prosumer-centric grid, while explicitly bringing the society into the loop in our resilience studies. The broader question is what are the best practices that we set for the different stakeholders—utilities and prosumers—in the future grid. 

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Group gathering, 30 August 2019

RESEARCH FOCUS

Sustainable Grid needs power-electronic DC/AC converters, termed as inverters, to interface the renewable resources with the existing AC power grid. These inverter-based renewables vary in size—from residential-scale (kW) to utility-scale (MW)—and are interconnected throughout the power system. This is poised to fundamentally change the operation of the grid, i.e., from a few spinning electromechanical machines to many power electronic inverters. With the grid inertia reducing, there is now an industry consensus on the need for inverter-based resources (IBRs) to partake in some functions such as frequency and voltage regulations, and inertial response. Such IBRs are called grid-forming (GFM) inverters, and are now being integrated in grids around the world. 

As more GFM inverters are connected to the power grid, they tend to interact amongst themselves and lead to new instability properties in the absence of coordination; implementing such coordination is challenging in the context of large-scale grid-edge integration of intermittent renewables, given their dispersed geographical availability.

Grid Resilience describes the ability of the grid to minimize consequences from disruptions including operating uncertainties from new technologies, prosumer behaviors, and malicious attacks on the system integrity. Coupled with the large-scale IBR integration problem, are the increasing dependence on communication infrastructure and the increasing participation of prosumers (producers+consumers) in the power grid operation. While the former raises obvious concerns about cyber-physical resilience, our research has shown for the first time that the latter can also be subject to behavioral manipulation attacks through social media, adding another dimension of vulnerability to the modern power grid.

We are the pioneer of combining computational social science with power system analysis, thereby explicitly closing the loop between the cyber-physical system and the users that interact with them. I call this society-in-the-loop analysis of power systems, which has 1) revealed previously unknown mechanisms through which end-user-behavior-targeted manipulation can reduce the resilience of the power grid, and 2) how grid data can be used as an indicator of social behavior during unprecedented and disruptive times such as a pandemic. 

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS 

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We have demonstrated that an adversary can cause blackouts on a city scale, not by tampering with the hardware or hacking into the control systems of the power grid, but rather by focusing entirely on behaviour manipulation. More broadly, this study is the first to demonstrate that in an era when disinformation can be weaponised, system vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure arise not only from the hardware and software, but also from the behaviour of the consumers.

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Small-signal instability of inverter-based microgrids under droop control occurs due to two separate phenomena: P-V/Q-f cross coupling and line dynamics. They caused unstable power sharing among droop-controlled microgrids. In this research, we developed a general formula-based lead compensator to compensate the distribution system lag. The method does not demand additional hardware investment, and can significantly expands the stability region.

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