Resnick Institute


Caltech Smart Grid Researchers

ARPA-E Funds Caltech Smart Grid Team’s Innovative “NODES” Project


Caltech’s smart grid team led by Professors Steven Low, Adam Wierman, and John Doyle in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Southern California Edison (SCE), the University of Minnesota, and Harvard University, have been awarded $3.9 million for their ARPA-E NODES project: Real-time Optimization and Control of Next-Generation Distribution Infrastructure.

Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) is ARPA-E’s new program focused on enabling more than 50% usage of renewable power on the grid. NODES project teams develop innovative hardware and software control systems to coordinate load and generation on the grid resulting in a virtual energy storage system. The storage will mitigate the intermittent nature of renewable energy, allowing the US to make the best use of its renewable energy sources, while also enhancing the grid’s resiliency, security and flexibility.

The Caltech team will develop a comprehensive distribution network management framework that unifies real-time voltage and frequency control at the home/distributed energy resource (DER) controllers’ level with network-wide energy management at the utility/aggregator level. The control architecture will leverage the real-time feedback for continuous optimal operation that dynamically acquires and dispatches reserves based on system status and forecasts of various load conditions.

This solution aims to manage changes in the grid reliably by leveraging DERs as additional grid resources. The expected benefits include improving grid efficiency while maintaining quality service, reducing CO2 emissions in power generation by directly offsetting load consumption with renewable energy production, and lowering required operating reserves. Additional savings are expected to reduce energy-delivery losses by distributing energy where it’s needed, and when it’s needed.

Read More