The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced a five-year $20 million grant for New Mexico’s SMART Grid Center. The grant was based on smart grid research happening at New Mexico State University (NMSU) over the past five years.
The grant is part of NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), designed to fulfill the NSF’s mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide, partnering with government, higher education and industry to develop research and development capacity. The program seeks to transform existing electricity distribution feeders into interconnected microgrids and will utilize multiple testbeds across New Mexico.
As a result of the grant, NMSU’s research will expand to include scientists across the state. Researchers and students from NMSU, the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech and Santa Fe Community College will be linked with researchers and scientists at Sandia Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as other organizations in New Mexico, such as the Microgrid Systems Laboratory and Explora Museum.
Enrico Pontelli, NMSU Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, partnered with the College of Engineering to initiate smart grid research at NMSU in 2014. It started with a $5 million award from the NSF’s Center for Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST). NMSU will receive $7.3 million of the EPSCoR grant.
“We are very passionate about research in this area,” says Pontelli. “Five years of funding to expand this research at the state level is fantastic.”
Pontelli says that New Mexico is the perfect state for researching technology to support the future electric grid due to its access to various energy sources and diverse land configuration.
Cyber security and the directional relationship between power plants and customers to predict customer need and create cheaper, sustainable energy use will be key to the research. And while building the infrastructure for smart grid technology starts with training students and developing research, collaborating with New Mexico’s electric suppliers to put the research into practice is the ultimate objective.
Pontelli has another objective in mind. “My goal is if anyone wants to talk about research in smart grids they come to us. We want to be the national leaders in smart grid technology.”
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(28 Sept 2018). $20 Million NSF Grant for SMART Grid Center Builds on NMSU Research. ECN Magazine.