Continued: GRAPES center
Research under way looks at how to incorporate “green” power sources into the power grid. For example, researchers are working on a project to help both homeowners who want to add wind or solar power generators to their homes and the utility companies who want to reduce power usage during times of high demand. The device being designed at GRAPES ties these power sources and storage batteries to the home’s power grid.
“It will manage the use of power from each of the sources throughout the day to minimize the energy cost – storing power when power is cheap, and supplying power when the price is high,” Dougal said. “While homeowners are not yet faced with time-of-use billing, it is only a matter of time before they will see it and realize cost savings from this sort of system.”
The 15 industry members of GRAPES are able to work together to learn from, and contribute to, the center’s research. Industry members are able to pool their research money with that of other members to achieve research results that would be too costly for one company alone; get access to “pre-release” results from the research; network with other industry members facing similar problems; influence the direction of the research; recruit future employees from student researchers; and transfer technology more quickly from the lab to the workplace.
By collaborating with industry, USC researchers are able to learn which problems are especially vexing to the power industry, ensuring the research is “relevant beyond the academic domain,” Dougal said. USC students benefit by performing industry-relevant research and by interacting with potential employers.
“The visibility the center provides will enhance our ability to recruit top faculty and students,” Dougal said.