Resnick Institute

2014 Resonate Award Winners

Javad Lavaei

Resonate Award recipient for building a computational backbone to transform the power grid into one that is flexible, smart and dynamic.



The Challenge

Javad’s work addresses the grand challenge of modernizing the 100-year-old electrical power grid. The goals of modernizing the grid include: improving security, efficiency and reliability, reducing pollutant emissions, replacing fossil-fuel energy with renewable energy and continued satisfaction of future demand growth. Design, upgrade and operation of the grid depends on difficult and complex optimization problems that are solved on varying time scales. In addition to these problems, new computational algorithms are needed to incorporate sustainable energy into the grid without destabilizing the system.

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The Response

Javad uses complex math to fuse power systems knowledge, control and optimization theory, economics and computer science to enable robust control systems for a dynamic grid. He has been able to find hidden structures in power optimization problems that can be exploited to simplify them. Solving these problems provides a scalable framework for incorporation of distributed solar, storage and other resources into the electricity grid in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

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The Future

The long-term benefits of designing efficient computational methods for the power grid include: reducing electricity costs through a cheaper way of dispatching power, decreasing the likelihood of power outages by maximizing reliability and robustness of the grid, and reducing greenhouse gas emission by optimally utilizing sustainable energy.