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Utility Collaboration - LG&E and KU

Joint Research and Academic Journal Technical Papers

Researchers from PEIK and UK and from LG&E and KU are collaborating on projects with a focus on the integration of distributed energy resources, such as utility scale PV solar power plants, in the generation and transmission electric power systems. Other topics include smart grids and electric power distribution systems, and artificial intelligence methods for load forecast.

Joint publications include an IEEE Industry Applications Society Renewable and Sustainable Energy Conversion Committee paper award winner. Some of the recent joint papers from academic technical journals are available in authors’ manuscript PDF versions from UKnowledge online database at UK or directly from the following weblinks:   

  • Akeyo, O. M., Patrick, A., and Ionel, D. M., "Study of Renewable Energy Penetration on a Benchmark Generation and Transmission System," Energies, Vol. 14, No. 1, 169, doi: 10.3390/en14010169, 14p (2021) pdf
  • Gong, H., Alden, R. E., Patrick, A., and Ionel, D. M., “Forecast of Community Total Electric Load and HVAC Component Disaggregation through a New LSTM-Based Method,”  Energies, Vol. 15, No. 9, 2974, doi: 10.3390/en15092974, pp. 1-17 (2022) pdf 
  • Akeyo, O. M., Rallabandi, V., Jewell, N., Patrick, A., and Ionel, D. M., “Parameter Identification for Cells, Modules, Racks, and Battery for Utility-Scale Energy Storage Systems,” IEEE Access, Vol. 8, doi: 10.1109/ACCESS.2020.3039198, pp. 215816-215826 (2020) pdf
  • Akeyo, O. M., Rallabandi, V., Jewell, N., and Ionel, D. M., “The Design and Analysis of Large Solar PV Farm Configurations with DC Connected Battery Systems,” IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, Vol. 56, No. 2, doi: 10.1109/TIA.2020.2969102, pp. 2903-2912 (2020) pdf
  • Rallabandi, V., Akeyo, O. M., Jewell, N., and Ionel, D. M., “Incorporating Battery Energy Storage Systems into Multi-MW Grid Connected PV Systems,” IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, Vol. 55, No. 1, doi: 10.1109/TIA.2018.2864696, pp. 638-647 (2019) pdf

Rethinking Wind in Kentucky

Abstract Recent analyses and developments suggest that wind energy could play a role in Kentucky’s future power generation mix. This recent change in outlook for Kentucky wind has been driven by three factors: (1) improved wind turbine technologies, (2) improved economics, and (3) recent analyses showing improved grid reliability due to wind’s complementarity to solar power generation.  A joint research project between the University of Kentucky College of Engineering, Kentucky Utilities (KU), and PPL Corporation Research & Development examines each of these factors with particular focus on Kentucky’s wind resources, changing economics of “energy communities” in Kentucky, and examples from similar locations of integrating wind energy together with solar and storage.  A new wind turbine installed at Kentucky Utilities’ Renewable Integration Research Facility will provide a testbed for evaluating the wind resource at Kentucky Utilities’ EW Brown facility and is intended to evaluate the opportunity for wind as part of a mix of other electricity generation options. 

The study, Holloway, Lawrence E.; Patrick, Aron; and Ionel, Dan M., "Rethinking Wind in Kentucky" (2024), Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky Faculty Publications, 90, doi.org/10.13023/424.eng, is available from the UKnowledge repository and directly as a PDF through this weblink.

Solar Photovoltaic Facility Resources and Online Data

LG&E and KU owns and maintains the E.W. Brown Solar Facility in Harrodsburg, KY, which covers 50 acres and includes 44,000 solar PV panels with a total 10 MW capacity. As an example, in 2020, this power plant facility generated the same amount of energy annually as used by 1,375 typical homes. The facility can be viewed via a live stream.

The solar PV power generation data, which has also been used for research studies, is available for general access via the following weblinks:

Decarbonization Analysis for Thermal Generation and Regionally Integrated Large-Scale Renewables with a Kentucky Case Study

Researchers from PEIK at UK, LG&E and KU and PPL, and University of Oxford have collaborated on a study of decarbonization for existing electricity generation portfolios with large-scale renewable resources, such as wind and solar photo-voltaic (PV) facilities, which is important for a transition to a sustainable energy future. An ultra-fast optimization method has been proposed for economic dispatch of firm thermal generation using high granularity, one minute resolution load, wind, and solar PV data to more accurately capture the effects of variable renewable energy (VRE). Load-generation imbalance and operational cost were minimized in a multi-objective clustered economic dispatch problem with various generation portfolios, realistic generator flexibility, and increasing levels of VRE integration. The economic feasibility of thermal dispatch scenarios was evaluated through a proposed method of levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for clustered generation portfolios. Effective renewable economics was applied to assess resource adequacy, annual carbon emissions, renewable capacity factor, over generation, and cost to build between thermal dispatch scenarios with incremental increases in VRE penetration. Solar PV and wind generation temporally complement one another in the region studied, and the combination of the two is beneficial to renewable energy integration. Furthermore, replacing older coal units with cleaner and agile natural gas units increases renewable hosting capacity and provides further pathways to decarbonization. Minute-based chronological simulations enable the assessment of renewable effectiveness related to weather-related variability and of complementary technologies, including energy storage for which a sizing procedure is proposed. The generally applicable methods were regionally exemplified for Kentucky, USA including 8 scenarios with 4 major year-long simulated case studies and 176 subcases using high performance computing (HPC) systems. More details, including Kentucky regionally specific findings and conclusions are available in a paper published in the Energies journal.

Habitat for Humanity – a Kentucky Study

LG&E and KU and PEIK at UK researchers collaborated on the final data analysis for an annual study that involved ten Habitat for Humanity households, which each received 18 shares of solar PV panels with a capacity of 4.50 kW DC, 3.78 kW AC. The shares were provided with no cost to the participants through LG&E and KU’s Solar Share Community Solar Program. The solar generation was used to reduce the electricity bills for the households by an average of $27.94 per month and lower their equivalent emissions by 88.7%. The summer months provided the most monetary benefit on average, but also the widest range in value to participants. Winter had the lowest solar PV generation and lowest average monetary benefit for the participants. More details are available in a brief report.

Teaching and Outreach

PEIK has an ongoing close collaboration with Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities (LG&E and KU) on teaching activities, including classes with field visits to utility facilities, lectures, and seminars by LG&E and KU technical experts. The course Efficient and Renewable Power Systems Operations, which is typically offered in the spring, comprises lectures on campus in the first part of the semester, followed by on site instruction at the EW Brown power plant, including the coal, hydro, natural gas, the solar PV, and the battery energy storage facilities. The experience contributes directly to the students' preparation for work in industry and the power utility sector.

Further collaboration between the two organizations includes joint participation at public events, such as the College of Engineering E-Day, which typically attracts more than 3,000 visitors from around the state on the UK campus. The PEIK Distinguished Speaker Seminar Series that takes place during the academic year, regularly includes talks from LG&E and KU managers and subject matter experts. Guest lectures are held as part of specialty and large classes, such as EGR 240 – Global Energy Issues, to provide the industrial and utility perspective to the academic curriculum. The example lecture notes are for “Kentucky’s Clean Energy Successes, Opportunities, and Challenges”. The example presentation slides Automating Kentucky’s Largest Battery are from an expert panel session held at the very large IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting.

The UK College of Engineering annually issues many scholarships to undergraduate students with a strong interest in power and energy, as demonstrated, for example, by the participation in the PEIK certificate program and activities. These scholarships are made possible by an endowment established years ago through E.On on behalf of Kentucky Utilities. The recipients receive between $2,000 and $3,000 annually and may also be granted an additional $2,000 for use on a power and energy related study abroad trip during the school year or the following summer.

Please visit our partners at LG&E and KU online.