Some colleges are known for their football teams. Some colleges are known for their leafy campuses. Some colleges are even lucky enough to be known for their academics. UCLA is striving to become known as a worldwide leader in the field of smart grid technology. To that end, the university is highlighting a new 10-year partnership with the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) in South Korea to collaborate on smart-grid research and the development of new technologies with the aim of creating a robust smart grid on an international level.
This comes close on the heels of UCLA’s funding acquisition from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to back research at the university’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and the UCLA Smart Grid Energy Research Center.
The university sees the agreement as a real coup. As part of the deal, the SMERC team is using the campus — in particular, Boelter Hall and the Engineering IV and V buildings — as an experimental lab to observe how wireless sensing and control systems can help create the smart grid. They are retrofitting these structures with cutting-edge sensors and smart meters that can, for example, gauge and adjust the amount of power needed in a room at a particular time of day and control appliances, lights and heating and air-conditioning systems depending on energy pricing or power availability on the grid.
UCLA is looking to utilize its open architecture Wireless Internet Smart Grid on more specific Korean applications and hoping to match its software with the Koreans' various renewable energy technologies, such as solar, wind and fuel cells. The UCLA software is a network platform that allows electrically operated machines and appliances such as plug-in electric vehicles, washers, dryers and air conditioners to be wirelessly monitored, connected and controlled through a wireless communications framework. The technology connects the machines and smart meters to the WINSmartGrid web service, which receives real-time feeds from utilities and external sources on the price of power at any time of day and other information. Control signals can subsequently be sent via the WINSmartGrid network, which in turn can dynamically control various appliances in real time.