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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Power System Simulation for Policymaking and Making Policymakers

  • Author(s): Cohen, Michael Ari
  • Advisor(s): Callaway, Duncan
  • et al.

Power system simulation is a vital tool for anticipating, planning for and ultimately address- ing future conditions on the power grid, especially in light of contemporary shifts in power generation, transmission and use that are being driven by a desire to utilize more environ- mentally responsible energy sources. This dissertation leverages power system simulation and engineering-economic analysis to provide initial answers to one open question about future power systems: how will high penetrations of distributed (rooftop) solar power affect the physical and economic operation of distribution feeders? We find that the overall impacts of distributed solar power (both positive and negative) on the feeders we modeled are minor compared to the overall cost of energy, but that there is on average a small net benefit provided by distributed generation. We then describe an effort to make similar analyses more accessible to a non-engineering (high school) audience by developing an educational video game called “Griddle” that is based on the same power system simulation techniques used in the first study. We describe the design and evaluation of Griddle and find that it demonstrates potential to provide students with insights about key power system learning objectives.

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