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Home | Seminars and Symposia | Past seminars/symposia: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DTC Science and Technology Innovators Lecture Series

Renewable Energy and the Smart Grid: Can We Have Our Cake and Eat it Too?


Thomas Overbye
Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tuesday, April 17, 2012
4:00 p.m. reception
4:30 p.m. lecture

401/402 Walter Library

View webcast of this lecture

OverbyeThe interconnected electric grids which span the world are truly a marvel of human engineering. In the United States, and in many other countries, these grids were built using mostly fossil fuel generation that provided a high degree of controllability. In a transition to a long term sustainable energy infrastructure the electric grid will continue to play a crucial role, yet not without some major technical and economic challenges. This talk will provide an overview of the role the electric grid plays in our energy infrastructure, some animated visualizations to help explain how the grid actually operates, and some of the challenges that are arising from trying to integrate in large amounts of less controllable renewable generation. The talk will also consider a lurking danger which could bring down the grid along with much of our modern economy.


Thomas J. Overbye is the Fox Family Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he has taught since 1991. He received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His current research interests include electric power system analysis, visualization, dynamics, and cyber security. Dr. Overbye is also the original developer of PowerWorld Simulator, an innovative computer program for power system analysis, education and visualization, a co-founder of PowerWorld Corporation, and is an author of the Power System Analysis and Design book.