The global electric power system is rapidly changing. In developing countries, building a grid and delivering reliable electricity to all is an ongoing challenge. In countries where grids are already established, operators are grappling with the challenge of integrating renewable energy sources into a system not designed for intermittent power. Meanwhile, a decline in nuclear power’s ability to compete against cheap natural gas could threaten its future in the power system.
EPIC faculty are studying the structure of the electric power system today in both developed and developing countries—its challenges, opportunities for improvement, and the role renewable energy and nuclear may play in electric power’s future. From the United States and Japan to India and Kenya, EPIC researchers are on the ground evaluating ways to make the electricity system more stable, financially secure, and broadly accessible. For instance, they are testing electricity distribution reforms designed to reduce losses and enhance the supply of power; studying the effect of rural electrification on the broader economy; and calculating the economic consequences that arise from supply outages. EPIC scholars are also investigating the changes underway in established grid systems. They are looking into tactics and incentives to get people to conserve power, as well as evaluating a set of policies for integrating renewable energy into the grid, rationalizing prices across the grid, and other modernization needs.