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Physics colloquium-“The Physics of the Power Grid: What is the Role of Inertia and its Alternatives in the Clean Energy Grid of the Future?”

February 27 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Paul Denholm


Abstract: The existing power grid relies heavily on physical inertia provided by thermal and hydropower generators to maintain a nearly constant frequency. But the inverters used by wind and solar do not inherently provide physical inertia, and there is concern that replacing conventional generators with renewable resources could compromise grid stability. In this talk, we will discuss the role of inertia in maintaining reliable electricity, and what alternatives might be used in a grid relying largely on inverter-based resources.

Bio: Paul Denholm is a member of the Transmission Group in the Grid Planning and Analysis Center and also a senior research fellow—the highest technical position at NREL—leading research in grid applications for energy storage and solar energy. He pioneered a variety of research methods for understanding the technical, economic, and environmental benefits and impacts of the large scale deployment of renewable electricity generation. He has delivered over 100 invited presentations to agencies including the National Science Foundation, the World Bank, and the International Energy Agency. He has co-authored over 100 articles related to renewable energy integration. While his official title is principal analyst, he is still an engineer at heart and in his free time he likes to build contraptions of dubious functionality, like a concentrating solar marshmallow cooker.

Pre-seminar snacks will be served in CoorsTek 150 from 3:30-4:00pm; lecture will take place in CTLM102.


February 27
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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Center for Technology and Learning Media (CTLM)
1650 Arapahoe St.
Golden, CO 80401 United States
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