Texas Tech University

Renewable Grid Integration and Microgrid Control Technology is the Future of Renewable Energy

Amanda Bowman

May 15, 2018

Texas Tech University expert available to discuss new renewable energy options.

With Texas expecting another scorching summer and the potential for rolling blackouts increasing due to strain on the electric grid, the need to focus on renewable energy options is front and center.

A Texas Tech University renewable energy expert knows what has to be done to have wind and solar energy reach its full potential.

Beibei “Helen” Ren
Beibei “Helen” Ren

Beibei “Helen” Ren, joint director of Dynamic Intelligent Systems, Control and Optimization (DISCO) research group and an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, specializes in renewable energy grid integration and microgrid control. Her microgrid control technology received the 2017 TechConnect National Innovation Award. She is currently working toward making her lab a net zero-energy lab, a pilot project to provide insights for net zero-energy communities to improve the community resilience and energy independence.

Ren, with her collaborator Qing-Chang Zhong, the founder of the Chicago-based start-up SYNDEM, is developing enabling power electronics technologies to unify the integration of renewables in a stable and reliable way to achieve autonomous power balance between sources and loads with minimum human intervention and communication.

Expert

Beibei “Helen” Ren, joint director of Dynamic Intelligent Systems, Control and Optimization (DISCO) research group and assistant professor of mechanical engineering, (806) 834-6692 or beibei.ren@ttu.edu

Talking Points

  • Renewables and microgrids are alternative solutions to address the energy crisis, sustainability and environmental issues, but challenges exist for the integration of these non-dispatchable sources to the grid. 
  • The future power systems with high-penetration of renewable energy sources will be power electronics-based instead of electric machines-based.
  • Advanced power electronics control technologies will play an important role for the integration of renewable energy sources to the current grid system to guarantee the stability of the whole system and avoid blackouts.
  • The SYNDEM (Synchronized and Democratized) architecture for the next generation of smart grids, which was proposed by Ren's collaborator, Qing-Chang Zhong, will empower all power electronics-interfaced suppliers and loads to behave like virtual synchronous machines so they can seamlessly integrate with the grid to actively take part in the regulation of system frequency and voltage in the same way as conventional synchronous machines do.