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University of Pittsburgh launches Energy GRID Institute

“Solution center” draws together utility, industry, government and foundation partners to modernize energy infrastructure

PITTSBURGH (June 23, 2016) … The U.S. power and energy infrastructure is at a crossroads. Aging, legacy-based systems face demands to integrate the growth of distributed and renewable energy resources, with sources ranging from the average consumer with a solar rooftop to commercial industry developing on-site microgrids.  

This rapidly evolving environment affects grid technologies, systems, designs, operations and regulation, and influences markets and policy.  

To address these challenges, the University of Pittsburgh is launching the Energy Grid Research and Infrastructure Development (GRID) Institute. This new entity, grounded in research from Pitt’s Center for Energy, will leverage the University’s public and private partnerships with new laboratory space at the Energy Innovation Center in downtown Pittsburgh to create a comprehensive international solution center for industry.

The Institute’s inaugural partners include Duquesne Light, Eaton, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Dominion Virginia Power, FirstEnergy, Emerson, PITT-OHIO Express, Sargent Electric Company, Siemens, and Universal Electric Corp. Nonprofits including the Henry L. Hillman Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation are also supporting the work of GRID. The Institute is coordinating closely with the City of Pittsburgh and with the National Energy Technology Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy on joint efforts to advance new energy technologies through an agreement aimed at designing a 21st century energy infrastructure for Pittsburgh. The Institute’s leadership team is also exploring additional public-private partnerships in the Pittsburgh region and throughout the U.S.

“Considering the expansive and somewhat daunting goal—to modernize the nation’s electric power grid and energy infrastructure—it’s vital that research institutions such as Pitt partner with the utility industry and the community to find solutions addressing security, resiliency, and reliability,” Pitt Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher said. “The Energy GRID Institute will serve as the nexus for collaborative  research that encourages economic growth and job creation, and enhances our incubator, start-up, and commercialization potential.”

Groundwork for the Institute was developed under the leadership of Gregory Reed, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and Director of the Center for Energy, and Rebecca Bagley, Vice Chancellor for Economic Partnerships.

GRID’s operations will be based in new research and incubator space currently under construction by Pitt at the Energy Innovation Center (EIC), a project developed by Pittsburgh Gateways Corporation in the former Connelly Trade School. The 18,600-square-foot laboratory will include the Electric Power Technologies Laboratory, led by Reed; the Next Generation Energy Conversion and Storage Technologies Laboratory, headed by Prashant Kumta, professor of bioengineering, mechanical engineering and materials science, and chemical and petroleum engineering; the High-Temperature Corrosion Testing Laboratory, led by Brian Gleeson, professor and chair of mechanical engineering and materials science; and the Pitt Energy Incubator Laboratories, developed by Mark S. Redfern, vice provost for research.

In collaboration with these researchers, the GRID Institute will address the utility sector’s critical issues, including:

  • Micro grids and resilient energy systems
  • Renewable technology integration (solar, wind, micro-hydroelectric, etc.)
  • Energy storage and power electronics technologies
  • Electric vehicle-to-grid concepts
  • Direct current (DC) infrastructure, technologies, and standards
  • Hybrid AC/DC systems
  • Integrated Energy Networks

“The University’s leading research in energy and sustainability and state-of-the-art laboratory space at the Energy Innovation Center enables GRID to evaluate, assess, and develop solutions collaboratively with our partners on major issues and technologies that impact not only our nation’s power grid, but also energy transmission and distribution infrastructure around the globe,” said Reed.

Collaborative partnerships are a key element of the enterprise, Bagley said. “We’re developing a world-class enterprise for energy and power grid research, development, demonstration, and deployment in collaboration with energy-based industry and utilities” she said. “We appreciate the contributions of our existing partner entities and are actively seeking to add to the group in order to enrich the exchange of ideas and reach universally beneficial outcomes more quickly.”


Contact: Paul Kovach