The project, when completed (all phases) will provide NASA with a reliable and fast State Estimator that will improve grid observability; optimization algorithms for load management under variable load demand and constrained capacity, yielding reliable results that have been power-flow checked; control-based applications; and auto-healing modules providing optimal (power-flow checked) action sequences for reconfiguration, in order to minimize brownouts and blackouts. These software applications provide the building blocks from which a truly autonomous power system can be built. Such a system is a pre-requisite for successful deep space missions requiring long-term operation with minimal human intervention. We envision that the first NASA system to receive the benefits of this effort will be Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP).
For non NASA opportunities, besides the existing AC grid applications, terrestrial opportunities are evident in AC, DC or AC-DC micro-grids. Terrestrial micro-grids pose unique scenarios for autonomous control because conditions differ substantially when the micro-grid is connected in parallel with the main grid instead of being islanded. Depending on the load/resource balance before islanding, quick actions will be required to ensure frequency and voltage stability. Renewable energy, particularly solar projects, will continue to play a larger role in the energy mix of micro-grids. Roof-top solar photo-voltaics on large commercial buildings coupled with battery storage and micro-turbines would be a good combination for energy efficiency and reliability. Military bases are excellent candidates for larger micro-grids, as they generally have enough land for larger scale solar projects, diesel generators for critical facilities and a significant transmission and distribution grid. The ability to manage electric power systems with minimal human intervention, with the implied cost reduction, will place these products as an appealing technological option to grid operators whether large or small.