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Power Sector Risk Management Tools To Be Developed
June 1, 2020

The effective and efficient incorporation of renewable energy into the energy market has been an ongoing goal for scientists, engineers, and environmentalists. The aim of replacing the use of fossil fuels for energy production within the United States has been and continues to be the focus of research by government agencies, laboratories, and universities across the country.

Now, according to information provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Rensselaer), a research team will develop crucial risk management tools for the power sector to better incorporate renewable energy into the energy market in the coming decades. Led by Aparna Gupta, an associate professor of quantitative finance in the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer, the research will be supported by a $2.66 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) through their new Performance-based Energy Resource Feedback, Optimization, and Risk Management (PERFORM) program.

Because of risks such as weather variability and a lack of power system storage, relying on wind and solar currently seems far riskier than traditional, less environmentally friendly energy sources to many end users. The risk segmenting and scoring methods that will be created over the course of this three-year grant will make it easier for renewable energy producers to actively participate in energy markets, and for end users to benefit from reliable, inexpensive energy.

According to Prof. Gupta, “By borrowing concepts from finance to break the risks inherent in using solar and wind for power into segments, we will be able to establish mechanisms by which renewable generators can assess their risks, price their risks to participate in the market, and still realize value while ensuring the demands and needs of the users are met.”

Prof. Gupta will be joined in this cross-disciplinary effort by several collaborators, including three experienced faculty from the Rensselaer School of Engineering: Joe Chow, an Institute Professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering; Koushik Kar, a professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering; and Kristen Schell, an assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering. Additional collaborators will include researchers from Sandia National Laboratories, North Carolina State University, and Underwriters Laboratories, a global leader in weather forecasting for renewable energy generation prediction.

“The phenomenal team members we assembled, along with our ability and willingness to connect across the disciplinary range needed to address the risk management challenges underlying the power systems of the future, were pivotal for securing this grant,” Prof. Gupta noted. “The rich ecosystem at Rensselaer will allow the entire team to spearhead groundbreaking research and build systems for the future.”

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