The U.S. Department of Energy’s $3.75 million award to the University of Central Florida and project partners – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Siemens Corporate Research Center and Orlando Utilities Commission – will support research to improve the design of autonomous inverter controls that will keep the nation’s power grid operations resilient and secure, particularly as solar, wind and other energy resources increasingly supply power to the grid.

Inverter controls are the new computerized instruments that help regulate the frequency, voltage and power throughout the entire grid.

Zhihua Qu, Ph.D., Pegasus Professor and chair, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the principal investigator of the project, “Autonomous Inverter Controls for Resilient and Secure Grid Operation: Vector-Control Design for Grid Forming.” Qu and his research partners will develop a unified control design framework for grid-forming and grid-following inverters, and enhance resiliency of the proposed system against cyber attacks.

“Inverter controls, together with renewables and distributed energy resources, are what make our electricity grid autonomous, intelligent and sustainable. Our project is to design autonomous inverter controls that address the intermittent nature of renewable resources, and enhance reliability and resiliency,” Qu said. His team will conduct analytical designs, hardware-in-the-loop simulation, lab testing and a field demonstration with Orlando Utilities Commission during the three-year project period.