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TMCNet:  UCF to Lead Effort in Advancing U.S. Renewable Energy and Electric Grid

[November 07, 2013]

UCF to Lead Effort in Advancing U.S. Renewable Energy and Electric Grid

ORLANDO, Fla. --(Business Wire)--

The University of Central Florida (UCF) has been awarded $3.2 million to lead one of 4 national consortia to develop distributed technologies, to increase engineering capacity and to prepare for a national shift from traditional sources of electricity to renewables such as solar and wind.

University researchers, led by UCF, are developing ways to shift from traditional power distribution ...

University researchers, led by UCF, are developing ways to shift from traditional power distribution channels like this electrical substation to smaller distributed sources such as solar. (Photo: Business Wire)

"This multi-university collaborative effort demonstrates our institutional commitment of being one of America's leading partnership university," said Michael Geogiopoulos, dean of the College of Engineering & Computer Science.

The team's winning proposal, Foundations for Engineering Education for Distributed Energy Resources (FEEDER), is a part of broader U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) investment of $12 million to increase the nation's capacity to support distributed energy technologies. FEEDER is supported by the DOE's SunShot Initiative and through the Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) program.

The FEEDER center will bring together seven universities (Auburn University, Florida State University, University of Arkansas, UCF, Uniersity of Florida, University of Kentucky, and University of South Carolina), eight utility companies (including Duke Energy (News - Alert), Florida Power & Light, Southern Company, Orlando Utility Commission), two national laboratories (National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory), and eight industry partners (including Siemens (News - Alert), SAIC, LEIDOS, Schneider) to speed up the development of technologies needed to prepare nation's electric grid to operate on renewable energy sources.

Specifically, the FEEDER center will research technological components such as distributed control, optimization, advanced communication, renewable generation and smart grid, to transform the electric grid. It will also focus on education by establishing cross-institutional Smart Grid curriculum, facilitating research collaborations among the academic, utility and industrial partners, and incorporating the latest and most relevant research findings into new educational materials and courseware, said Zhihua Qu, professor and chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at UCF and the lead researcher on the FEEDER grant.

Within UCF, the project team consists of seven faculty members in the relevant technical areas and also involves UCF's Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). ECE and FSEC have successfully completed their DoE's grid integration projects and are also being funded by National Science Foundation, US DoT, and Harris to conduct fundamental and applied research in smart grid, electric vehicles, as well as solar and ocean energy.

By upgrading the power engineering systems engineering programs at participating universities, FEEDER aims to attract and educate more students to become future power engineers, to address real-world R&D challenges, to train existing workforce and speed up technology transfers, and to realize Smart Grid implementation, said Prof. Qu. FEEDER's 31 electrical engineering faculty focus their efforts on improving energy independence and sustainability for our nation and its economy.

50 Years of Achievement: The University of Central Florida, the nation's second-largest university with nearly 60,000 students, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013. UCF has grown in size, quality, diversity and reputation, and today the university offers more than 200 degree programs at its main campus in Orlando and more than a dozen other locations. Known as America's leading partnership university, UCF is an economic engine attracting and supporting industries vital to the region's success now and into the future. For more information, visit http://today.ucf.edu.

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