Researchers receive NSF grant to explore interface between microgrids and power electronics

Le Xie EnjetiTwo researchers from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University have received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that will allow them to look at the interface between microgrids and power electronics.

Dr. Le Xie’s (left) and Dr. Prasad Enjeti’s (right) grant is titled “Microgrid Interconnections Control via Voltage Angle Droop Methods.”

Their project proposes a novel system configuration for a future distribution grid in which multiple microgrids are coupled through distribution lines and present themselves as individual controllable entities. Built upon the innovations on sensors (micro-synchrophasors) and actuators (power electronic interfaces), they’re hoping to create a future distribution grid comprised of many microgrid clusters, each interfacing through points of common coupling with little or no inertia. Their hope is that the results of this project will help many communities, such as rural and developing regions, leapfrog the century-old distribution grid through an envisioned clean slate approach to integrating a much deeper level of renewable resources at a much higher level of reliability.

Xie, an associate professor in the department, joined the Texas A&M faculty in January 2010. He received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 2004 from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, his master's degree in engineering sciences from Harvard University in 2005 and his Ph.D. from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 2009.

His research interests include modeling and control of large-scale power systems with renewable energy resources and electricity markets. Xie received the NSF CAREER Award and the Oak Ridge Associated Universities Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award in 2012. He has also received best paper awards and served as the founding faculty advisor for the Texas A&M Energy Club.

Enjeti, the TI Professor III in Analog Engineering in the department and associate dean for academic affairs in the Texas A&M University College of Engineering, joined the department in 1988 and is responsible for developing the college's state-of-the-art undergraduate design experience laboratory. From 2008 to 2010, he was associate dean of academic affairs at Texas A&M University at Qatar.

Enjeti's research focuses on power electronics and power quality; advancing switching power supply designs and solutions to complex power management issues; power conditioning systems for fuel cells, wind and solar energy systems; and design of high temperature power conversion systems with wide band-gap semiconductor devices.