Sijia Geng receives Barbour Scholarship to further her research in renewable energy systems

Sijia is working to ensure the safety, stability and cost effectiveness of future power systems that are dominated by renewable resources, through fundamental studies of system operation.

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Sijia Geng, PhD candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering, received a Barbour Scholarship from the Rackham Graduate School to support her in the final stages of completing her dissertation. Geng is addressing critical challenges, including uncertainties, dynamics and stability issues, which are arising with large-scale integration of renewable technologies into power systems.

“As the world confronts the limits and problems associated with the use of fossil fuels,” says Geng, “the integration of distributed energy resources, using renewable sources such
as wind and solar, will become increasingly important.”

These energy sources provide intermittent power, which is not how electrical grids were initially envisioned. The rapid growth in the use of renewable resources, due to reducing costs and increasing efficiencies, has given rise to a vital area of research focused on control strategies that enable reliable and efficient integration of variable power sources into the existing grid.

“As distributed energy resource systems evolve,” says Geng, “it is likely they will incorporate multiple energy carriers, typically electricity, heat, natural gas, and hydrogen, along with their respective energy conversion processes.”

Geng has already published eight journal and conference papers in prestigious journals such as the Proceedings of the IEEE and the IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems and at premier international conferences. She received the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Prize for Distinguished Academic Achievement in 2018 and an Honorable Mention for the Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Prize for Outstanding Ph.D. Research in 2021. She recently served as a graduate student instructor for the graduate level course, Linear Systems Theory, and helped grow the Graduate Society of Women Engineers as their Membership Chair. Geng is advised by Prof. Ian Hiskens, the Vennema Professor of Engineering.

While Geng’s research impacts large-scale systems such as the U.S. grid, she is also seeking to identify opportunities for providing clean-energy electrification to underdeveloped rural areas.

“Greater effort is needed to reduce the cost of electricity so that equal access to convenient energy is available to all,” said Geng. “It is my desire to uplift the common welfare of the population at large, and I believe that my research supporting ubiquitous integration of renewable DERs for power systems will help achieve this goal.”

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