Berkeley Engineers Selected to Modernize the Grid
November 2, 2018

The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has just selected eighteen teams, including two with UC Berkeley Engineering researchers, to participate in the new Grid Optimization (GO) Competition.

The UC Berkeley team will be led by EECS assistant professor in residence Somayeh Sojoudi, IEOR associate professor Javad Lavaei, and IEOR professor of the graduate school, Shmuel Oren. IEOR professor Alper Atamturk will also collaborate with a team led by Ramtin Madani based at the University of Texas at Arlington.

From left to right: Professors Somayeh Sojoudi, Javad Lavaei, Shmuel Oren, and Alper Atamturk.

Each team will receive a $250k grant for their first year of research and up to $400k for the second year. The program also includes cash prizes for successful teams, including a prize of up to $2 million at the end of the second year.

More information on the competition from ARPA-E:

The first challenge will focus on the problem of security constrained optimal power flow (SCOPF), wherein competitors must use software to route power to customers across a simulated grid in a reliable and cost-effective way. Competitors will test their algorithms on complex, realistic power system models, and participants will be scored on their performance relative to other competitors. Winning teams will find an efficient, minimum-cost solution to the SCOPF problem.

Today’s grid software was designed for a power grid centered on large, centralized power plants. In recent years, the grid has become more diverse, with the rapid development of new energy sources like battery storage, wind and solar power, and distributed energy resources (DER) creating a new set of challenges for grid management. Grid operators require new approaches to tackle the underlying modeling, optimization, and control methods that will ultimately increase grid flexibility, reliability, and resilience while reducing system costs and opening the door to new technologies.

The GO Competition platform was developed by ARPA-E and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). A summary of the GO Competition Challenge 1 can be found here. Additional information, including competition rules, can be found here.