The Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK), LG&E and KU have recently expanded their collaboration program with a sponsored research project to include, alongside the integration of large solar PV power plants in the generation and transmission system, new topics of electric power distribution and smart grid technologies. Mr. Aron Patrick, Manager of Technology Research and Analytics for LG&E and KU, serves as the industrial project lead, and Dan M. Ionel, electrical and computer engineering professor, L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power and PEIK director, is the project PI at UK.
Over the last year, the PEIK and LG&E and KU researchers successfully analyzed the impact of large PV penetration on the companies’ generation portfolio. Using historical solar irradiance profiles from multiple sites distributed across the state of Kentucky, the study was able to estimate the maximum amount of intermittent renewable energy sources the service area can sustain without the need for significant upgrades to the existing infrastructure. This work can be adopted for vast utility applications including specifications for new generation units, utility-scale energy storage capacity requirements and necessary transmission line upgrades for increased solar PV penetration.
LG&E, KU and PEIK also collaborate on teaching with lectures and demonstrations by utility experts for the multidisciplinary core required class for the Power and Energy certificate at the University of Kentucky, EGR 240 “Global Energy Issues" and contributions to the advanced engineering classes on special topics of electric power engineering. The two organizations also work together on professional and STEM outreach in support of the regional community.