WSU developing distributed apps for smart power grid

By Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture

srivastava-a-2011PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University is part of a $3.5 million U.S. Department of Energy project to create software applications for the smart electric power grid.

Led by Anurag Srivastava, associate professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, WSU researchers will develop and test distributed smart grid applications using a custom-designed computational platform developed at Vanberbilt University.

The project is led by Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering and funded by the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy OPEN 2015 program. The team also includes Chen-Ching Liu and David Bakken from WSU and researchers from North Carolina State University.

Anurag Srivastava-in-lab
Anurag Srivastava, left, in his smart grid demonstration and research investigation laboratory at WSU.

Today’s power grid infrastructure and the smart power grid of the future can be compared to old cell phones and today’s smartphones, said Srivastava. Because of its interactivity, the future smart grid will run on a software platform, a sort of operating system that facilitates the execution of a wide variety of sophisticated software applications.

Just as a smartphone revolution enabled all sorts of software “apps” to run on handsets, these researchers are working to design and test an open software platform for the smart grid.

The proposed Resilient Information Architecture Platform for the Smart Grid (RIAPS) will allow utilities, residential customers and communities to use software applications to deploy and operate smart grid hardware devices, like remote terminals, automation controllers and data servers.

The researchers are working to develop the software platform, test a prototype and demonstrate its use on transmission and distribution system problems.

In addition to building the software apps, the WSU researchers will test them in Srivastava’s smart grid demonstration and research investigation laboratory. The lab lets researchers develop, test and validate smart grid algorithms and new devices in power transmission and distribution network level.

The ARPA-E program supports ideas for transformational technologies that display technical promise and commercial impact but are too early for private-sector investment.