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The TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy at Stanford is providing four grants totaling $1.2 million to university researchers for bolstering new ideas and projects that create a greener, more efficient system for delivering electricity through "smart power grid" systems. "To develop sustainable energy systems for the future, we asked our faculty to focus on building up Stanford's capabilities in the area of the power grid," stated TomKat Center Director Stacey Bent. "Our goal is to provide seed grants to our investigators so they can initiate new projects, then run with their ideas and secure additional funding from other sources."

With the help of sustainable grid systems, there can be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through lowering peak energy demand, increasing conservation and utilizing renewable sources of energy such as sun and wind for powering homes and businesses. The designs could also contribute by lowering electricity costs and making real-time energy usage and rates information available to both utilities and consumers.

The center is awarding a grant to electrical engineers Abbas El Gamal, Daniel O’Neill, Stephen Boyd, Ben Van Roy, and Amit Narayan who working on the research and development of GridSpice, a software simulation system for smart grid modeling and analysis.

Recipients of another grant include Sanjay Lall, associate professor of electrical engineering and of aeronautics and astronautics, and Dimitry Gorinevsky, consulting professor of electrical engineering, who are analysing the smart power grid systems by looking at what impact will electrical vehicle charging systems and future renewable generation have on it.

"This funding allows us to gain an understanding of the technical possibilities and design opportunities for the electrical grid of the future," according to Lall. "We plan to study and optimize the tradeoffs using simulations and analytical models."

The other recipients include Frank Wolak and Mark Thurber, who run the Energy and Sustainable Development program at the University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; and Ram Rajagopal, who will become a member of the University’s civil and environmental engineering faculty in January. Wolak and Mark are collaborating with Boyd for investigating means of taking renewable energy to the wholesale market by reducing regulatory barriers. Rajagopal will examine means of creating cost-effective usage of intermittent wind energy by improving power operations.

Stanford Alumni and life partners Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor founded the TomKat Center in 2009 with a $40 million gift. The center aims to harness skills and creativity of the university’s leading science, technology and policy experts for transforming the energy systems in the world for a sustainable future.

"We are grateful to Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor for their incredible generosity and vision," stated Bent. "With the range and depth of our research talent at Stanford, we are off to a great start contributing to the next-generation power grid."


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