About GridSTAR

ImageThe DOE GridSTAR Center is a smart grid education and research center that is part of the Architectural Engineering Department at The Pennsylvania State University. Its formation is the result of a three-year $5 million contractual award by DOE to Penn State that also requires $5 million in matching funds.  See the attached announcement at the bottom of the page.  The Center seeks to achieve sustainable operation after the DOE-funded  period through a combination of education and research programs.

The Center will offer a variety of for-credit and non-credit programs in Philadelphia, University Park, and Pittsburgh in addition to several online formats.  Target audiences are persons seeking entry-level training, college students, graduate students, advanced researchers, practicing engineers needing continuing education, K-12 students, and the public.

Much of the planned research will occur at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia because it has an unregulated microgrid.  Part of this microgrid in the Clean Energy Campus area will be a highly-monitored subgrid being designed for the plug-and-play testing of smart grid components and system configurations.  After solutions have shown to be robust and have an acceptable value proposition, they should become candidates for installation through the balance of The Navy Yard as the site continues to develop according to its Master Plan.  In this way The Navy Yard should become an example of how to deploy these technologies successfully in a mixed-use urban redevelopment setting.

 The initial configuration of the instrumented test area will be comprised of the following.

(1)    A net zero energy solar research house with both photovoltaic panels for electricity generation and photothermal absorption system for hot water heating, a home energy management system and communications network, and advanced appliances capable of load management.  One of the objectives is to show how such a house could respond to wholesale electric price signals if it were part of a larger development of such houses.

(2)    A companion solar-canopied electric vehicle charging station with integrated community energy storage.  The unit should be able to make real-time decisions regarding buying and selling electricity from the grid vs. charging or discharging the battery in order to minimize the cost of charging electric vehicles.

(3)    A flexible solar teaching area in which students may obtain hands-on experiences in designing and installing various kinds of solar systems.

(4)    A grid-scale battery system that can be used for a variety of demand reduction or renewable (solar) energy storage time-shifting experiments.

(5)    Space for additional electric vehicle charging stations of various types to provide hands-on training and research on integration strategies.  Inductive designs may be considered as will vehicle-to-grid (V2G) research.

(6)    Space for additional solar plans to help create the right amounts of renewable energy to study grid integration problems caused by transients.

(7)    Smart meters, power quality meters, and remote displays to monitor conditions and archive data.

(8)    Connection to several buildings and process loads to study building-to-grid integration (B2G) and permit demand management (peak-clipping) and response (load shedding) by interaction with the building energy management systems and controls in response to real-time utility-provided price and event signals.

(9)    A flexible infrastructure of switched feeders for this equipment to permit easy and uninterruptable reconfiguration for teaching and research purposes or rapid remote response in the case of outages.


U.S. DOE Solar Instructor Training Network Penn State Sustainability Institute U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association