Patricia Hidalgo-Gonzalez wants to strengthen the network

Patricia Hidalgo-Gonzalez wants to strengthen the network

United States’ the power grid is in trouble. Much of the country’s energy comes from non-renewable resources that contribute to climate change. And as the resulting climate crisis brings more frequent heat waves, wildfires and freezes, demand on the grid becomes greater and more erratic. The pressure is heavy, but Patricia Hidalgo-Gonzalez has some ideas to lighten the load on the grid.

Hidalgo-Gonzalez directs the Renewable Energy and Advanced Mathematics (REAM) Laboratory at UC San Diego. His work focuses on finding new ways to integrate more sustainable energy into the grid, the kind of research that could create solutions to outages that hit places like California and Texas during extreme temperature changes. “Unfortunately, we expect this almost every summer now,” Hidalgo-Gonzalez told RE:WIRED Green conference attendees on Wednesday.

To combat this, Hidalgo-Gonzalez created models to study the power grid of western North America under the uncertainty of climate change. At REAM, his team uses advanced control theory and machine learning to understand grid conditions that maximize sustainable energy sources. In a study published by the lab in 2020, it was able to model the optimal way to add more renewable energy generators to the grid in the West in 2045. The model revealed when and where to install new generators, what type of technology renewable would be better place and total cost.

These types of models will be vital for networks of the future, but Hidalgo-Gonzalez notes that we are already seeing progress toward a more resilient network. California has announced plans to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035, and this year’s climate bill is expected to mean more electrified trucks and delivery vans. It’s also possible that all the batteries in these electric vehicles will save the US power grid. Rooftop solar use has increased dramatically, meaning more Americans will be able to sell electricity back to the system. Individuals are moving from consumers to producers, she said.

In the meantime, the public can take action to protect the network. Since renewables peak with the sun at noon, Hidalgo-Gonzalez recommends moving power usage from around 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. whenever possible, perhaps while doing laundry or charging your vehicle. electricity according to a new timetable.

Getting people to change their energy use is difficult, but not impossible. As proof, Hidalgo-Gonzalez cites a heat wave that hit California just two weeks ago. As temperatures rose at midday, the demand for air conditioning strained the network. “Many of us received texts or emails from the system operator or our utilities,” she said. The messages asked people to reduce their electricity consumption between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. This joint action made it possible to avoid breakdowns. “It really worked,” she said.

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