How are we going to meet our skyrocketing demands for energy? It's one of the most pressing concerns for today's world. That's why faculty from the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science are connecting with faculty in mathematics and economics to develop advanced electricity systems, or "Smart Grids," to help meet those demands.
Rick Blum, professor of electrical and computer engineering, says that no other part of America's infrastructure is more overdue for a fresh coat of intelligent systems than the electrical grid that generates, transmits and distributes power to more than 300 million people.
Blum is one of a cluster of Lehigh researchers looking to the smart grid for solutions to our energy concerns. The group includes Shalinee Kishore, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Lawrence Snyder, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering; and Liang Cheng, associate professor of computer science and engineering. While meeting with industry experts and government and national labs, the team realized Lehigh's expertise in systems engineering was ideally suited to help overhaul the grid.
"The electrical grid needs to be able to respond to demand and to control distribution in real time. We have to figure out when consumers need power, how much they need and how much power is being generated at a given time by a given plant," says Blum. "The smart grid will increase energy efficiency and decrease carbon emissions. It will integrate renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Because power generated by these sources is variable, the prices charged for power must become variable as well."
Lehigh's faculty cluster on Integrated Networks for Electricity is a multidisciplinary team of engineers, mathematicians and economists who are collaborating to develop these smart grid systems and address our nation's energy problems. By making connections between expertise across disciplines, we will move closer to a more efficient and environmentally friendly energy solution.