NC State researchers offer ways to prevent massive power cutbacks, outages amid record heat, winter snowstorms

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Millions who faced record heat in the Pacific Northwest were asked to cut back on electricity as hundreds have died from heat exposure.

The worst of recent winters in Texas caused rolling power outages and left more than a hundred dead.

“And we worry about those peak demand periods because that’s when our demand is the highest and we need the most amount of generation. We want to make sure that our power system is reliable because nobody wants the lights to go out” said N.C. State professor Joe DeCarolis. With climate change comes an urgency to figure out how to do that.

DeCarolis teaches civil, construction, and environmental engineering. He and his team of fellow researchers are proving that when you add solar into the mix of stored energy made from coal, gas, nuclear and wind the chances of keeping the electricity on greatly improve.

“The bottom line is when these technologies are on the same grid together we’re seeing a larger reliability benefit than if you just summed their individual reliability,” said DeCarolis.

This is not to be confused with the solar panels you might have in your home. It’s the power companies that would need to generate solar energy while also producing energy in more traditional ways.

“So instead of only focusing on solar, instead of only focusing on deploying storage, it’s actually worthwhile to think about how you deploy them together and when you do have these technologies on the grid together thinking about the coordinated operation in a way that maximizes the reliability to the system,” said DeCarolis.

“The Symbiotic Relationship of Solar Power and Energy Storage in Providing Capacity Value,” appears in the journal Renewable Energy. The research team includes DeCarolis, Jeremiah Johnson associate professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State, Daniel Sodano, a former graduate student at N.C. State and Anderson Rodrigo de Queiroz, an assistant professor of business at N.C. Central University.