Having run countless simulations and experiments aimed at building a more resilient power grid, Luigi Vanfretti is well acquainted with the weaknesses in the nation’s current system. This expertise was recently featured in a report about the factors that caused massive, ongoing power outages in Texas.
Frozen well heads, gas pipes, and other factors contributed to a “perfect storm” of conditions, Vanfretti said. Some politicians and pundits have floated the notion that the catastrophe was primarily due to frozen wind turbines, but according to Vanfretti, an associate professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the problem is far more complex.
Additionally, the electrical grid in Texas is unique in that it has limited connections to neighboring states, which means there are limitations to how much assistance it can receive during a crisis. “It’s about the ability to route the power,” Vanfretti recently told the Times Union.
Vanfretti is an expert in power grid modeling, simulation, stability, and control. His research focuses on creating a smarter, cleaner, more reliable power grid that is capable of integrating renewable energy. Within his Analysis Laboratory for Synchrophasor and Electrical Energy Technology (ALSET) Lab, Vanfretti and his team model the power grid and run simulations in order to develop, test, and improve smart inverters, software, and hardware that will be needed to create the smart grid of the future.
Vanfretti is available to speak about what contributed to the devastating outages in Texas, as well as the changes and research necessary to create a more resilient power system.