Booz Allen Colloquium in ECE: "Transforming the Electric Grid from the Distrinution System Out"

Friday, December 5, 2014
3:00 p.m.
Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building, Rm. 1110
Jasmine Cooper

Booz Allen Hamilton Distinguished Colloquium in Electrical and Computer Engineering

"Transforming the Electric Grid from the Distrinution System Out"

Professor Thomas Jahns
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Declining prices coupled with tax incentives are driving increased use of distributed energy resources in the electrical utility system. As a result, more power is being generated in homes, businesses, and commercial buildings and used locally. This jump in power production at the distribution level presents a challenge to the traditional electrical transmission and distribution system based on centralized power generation and control. The centralized system operated by utilities was not designed for the flexible load tracking required by renewables or the control of large numbers of distributed electrical energy resources. An alternative approach that holds promise is a dynamic distribution system that would take over responsibility for tracking loads and smoothing intermittent renewable energy generation from the utilities. This new dynamic distribution system would connect central and local electricity generation, storage, microgrids, and loads with a marketplace that enables energy transactions, such as payments passing between buyers and sellers of energy at the local distribution level. This new system provides a promising framework for distributed energy resources to deliver the same services at a better price, with decreased power losses, decreased emissions, and better reliability. The challenges and opportunities associated with this dynamic distribution system architecture will be discussed in this presentation.


Professor Thomas M. Jahns received his bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees from MIT, all in electrical engineering. Dr. Jahns joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 as a Grainger Professor of Power Electronics and Electric Machines in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is a Co-Director of the Wisconsin Electric Machines and Power Electronics Consortium (WEMPEC), an industrial consortium with over 85 international sponsors. Dr. Jahns is also the Research Director of the Center for Renewable Energy Systems (CRES) that is supported by UW-Madison and three other research universities in the Midwest. Prior to coming to UW-Madison, Dr. Jahns worked at GE Corporate Research and Development in upstate New York for 15 years, where he pursued new power electronics and motor drive technology in a variety of research and management positions. His current research interests at UW-Madison include electric vehicle propulsion, renewable energy systems, microgrids, and energy storage equipment. Dr. Jahns is a Fellow of IEEE. He received the 2005 IEEE Nikola Tesla Technical Field Award “for pioneering contributions to the design and application of AC permanent magnet machines”. Dr. Jahns is a Past President of the IEEE Power Electronics Society and the recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Achievement Award presented by the IEEE Industry Applications Society.


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