June 3, 2024

NDSU researchers working to revolutionize Standing Rock energy landscape


NDSU and the College of Engineering have been awarded nearly $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to support multi-year research, development and demonstration of microgrid-related technologies. The project will be technically led by Di Wu, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. 

Microgrids provide a solution to electricity grid threats, such as severe weather events and physical or cyber-attacks, via localized grids that can operate autonomously, whether disconnected from the traditional grid or supporting remote communities.

“I hope the microgrid-enabling technologies developed in this project will facilitate a reliable and resilient integration of renewable energy such as solar and wind in remote, rural and islanded regions,” Wu said. 

NDSU will work with the newly established Standing Rock Renewable Energy Power Authority to ensure that the project is responsive to community needs with meaningful stakeholder engagement. Other partners include the University of Oklahoma, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and microgrid controller vendor SIEMENS. 

Wu and the team are proposing a Plug-and-Play Modular Microgrid solution that encompasses the entire microgrid design lifecycle in a comprehensive approach that streamlines various aspects of the microgrid design ecosystem. As a result, such solutions can be replicated to application scenarios with different scales, allowing for the easy connection of various components and modules with minimal technical barriers to remote users. 

The technical solution provided by this project is expected to lower the design, engineering, construction, and operational costs of microgrids. 

“We look forward to partnering with our selectees to bring reliable and resilient electric power to those who live and work in remote areas,” said Gene Rodrigues, Assistant Secretary for Electricity. “Developing and deploying microgrid-enabling technologies and addressing non-technical barriers are essential elements of our commitment to meeting Americans where they are and working with the local resources available to their communities.”

This multi-year project will also provide important hands-on, field-relevant experience for engineering students.  

“The grant will foster training for engineering students and professionals to equip them with related skills by tailoring these advanced solutions to needed microgrid and renewable technologies,” said Wu.

The overall goal of this funding is to support critical grid system research, promote microgrids as a core solution for increasing grid reliability and resilience, and bring replicable microgrid solutions to communities in remote, rural and islanded regions in North Dakota, Oklahoma and across the country.

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