“Planning and Design Approaches of Microgrids for Power Supply Resiliency to Natural Disasters”

Dr. Alexis Kwasinski

University of Texas-Austin

When: Monday, February 3, 2014 at 3:05 p.m.
Where: Warnock 1230


This presentation analyzes system-level planning and component-level design approaches to achieve high power supply availability during and after natural disasters. It starts by explaining the motivation of this analysis with a description of photographic evidence and information collected during field damage assessments after recent notable natural disasters. This evidence seems to indicate that conventional power grids are very fragile systems due to their primarily centralized power distribution and control architectures and explains why conventional mitigation strategies and many smart grid technologies yield limited resiliency improvement. The second part of this presentation introduces microgrids as an alternative technology that does not have these limitations. A system-level analysis indicates that resilient microgrids need to include diverse power sources and/or local energy storage. Then, the presentation moves on to explore suitable power electronic interfaces to integrate diverse power sources, and advanced power distribution architectures to improve resiliency to natural disasters. The effects that these power distribution architectures have on stability and control are also discussed. The presentation concludes with a description of uses of resilient microgrids in key applications, such as wireless communication networks, and an exploration of future research paths.

Speaker Biography

Alexis Kwasinski earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 2005 and 2007, respectively. Previously, he spent almost 10 years working for Telefónica of Argentina and for Lucent Technologies Power Systems. He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and his research interests include power electronic systems, distributed generation (microgrids), renewable and alternative energy, smart grids, and analysis of the impact of natural disasters on critical power infrastructure. He participated in damage assessments after natural disasters, including hurricane Katrina and the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In 2005, Dr. Kwasinski was awarded the Joseph J. Suozzi INTELEC Fellowship and in 2007 he received the best technical paper award at INTELEC. In 2009 he received an NSF CAREER award and in 2011 he received an IBM Faculty Innovation Award. Dr. Kwasinski is also an Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion and IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics.