The United States electrical grid is undergoing a profound transformation due to trends in information technology, smart equipment, renewable energy systems and increasing sustainability goals. As the technical complexity of our electric grid increases, end users, electric generators and grid operators benefit in terms of response, asset management and efficient deployment of all types of electrical generation. For the spring 2018 semester, the IPRO team will explore the need to create a new approach to rebuilding devastated electrical grids, as Puerto Rico has experienced as a result of recent hurricane activity. In addition, the IPRO team will continue to work with local community partners in their efforts to build urban renewable energy infrastructure and community solar projects.
During the course of the project, the IPRO team will develop an understanding of the current development of Smart Microgrids, AC and HVDC transmission systems, safe incorporation of renewable energy, energy storage and relationship between electric and thermal energy production, distribution, storage and use. The team will fully develop a description of Smart MicroGrids and research other new technologies currently in the conceptual development or design stages. This IPRO project will give all students an understanding about where a typical utility is headed in comparison to current practices. Over several semesters, this IPRO project develops concepts and work product that is reviewed by professionals, including IIT alums, on staff in various departments within Sargent & Lundy LLC.
This IPRO project will start the semester with a defined focus. The team will have access to previous semester materials, including work product and recommendations for next steps. Our goal for each semester is to build upon what has been accomplished during previous semesters. As a broad, contemporary electric power project, our aim is to develop a working knowledge of all technical and social trends and factors that influence innovations in electric power systems, including geographic, human, architectural/ engineering systems design, renewable energy, energy efficiency, business management and sustainability.
As an example, the fall 2017 IPRO team has continued a collaboration with Bronzeville Urban Development (B.U.D.). BUD has been developing an electric power service provider business model that is based on creating a MicroGrid on top of an abandoned rail right-of-way in Bronzeville. The Puerto Rico grid is a similar defined project scope, however, larger in size and complexity than the Bronzeville project. It is has not yet been determined whether this focus will continue for spring or whether Sargent & Lundy will define a new focus for the spring 2018 IPRO team.