How can the nation’s aging power grid better incorporate energy sources like wind and solar?
What would make it more resilient to modern threats such as cyberattacks?
Those are among the questions the University of New Mexico could help answer through a new $20 million, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation.
The money will fund a new SMART Grid Center at UNM, which will “work toward a novel, efficient and economical solution to enable the existing grid infrastructure to adapt to the changes of the 21st century and beyond,” according to an NSF news release.
UNM says the project includes researchers from New Mexico State University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Santa Fe Community College and the state’s two national laboratories. It also will include private sector partnerships.
The center is not a physical building but rather “a novel, interdisciplinary research center that will address pressing design, operational, data, and security challenges of next-generation electric power management,” the award’s principal investigator, William Michener, said in a statement provided by UNM.
“SMART” is an acronym for sustainable, modular, adaptive, resilient and transactive.
The grant is part of a National Science Foundation program that promotes research and development activity in parts of the U.S. that “demonstrate a commitment to research but have thus far lacked the levels of investment seen in other parts of the country,” according to the agency.
UNM’s award was among seven totaling about $140 million that NSF announced this week.
The grants aim to enhance communication and collaboration among different institutions in the same state and promote relevant workforce development.
“These new awards will fund research in areas of national importance in jurisdictions that have unique capabilities when it comes to exploring and understanding them,” Sean Kennan, program manager for NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, said in the release.
“The projects target high priority research areas for NSF, including next-generation power grids, the mitigation of wildfires, the prevention of water contamination, understanding the rules of life, and discovery and development of new materials for future technologies.”