As climate change has been more rapid than scientists’ anticipate, carbon neutrality becomes an unavoidable policy to all nations. Indeed, most of the nations in the world are taking the crisis more seriously than they used to be, turning the energy source direction into a massive eco-friendly renewable energy is not a surprising trend anymore. However, the usage of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, necessitates the design of a fundamentally new (or an additional) energy conversion/storage/transport paradigm.
Grid Modernization track at KENTECH covers the subjects related to the research topics that are necessary to analyze, design, operate, and control the future electric power grid. In Grid Modernization track students will get a large variety of knowledge and experience from engineering to science. Power system engineering will be one of the main fields of study that include DC power integration, network analysis (complexity science), and ultra high-power semiconductor.
Why should we study this track?
Future electric power systems based on renewable energy sources will be set up in an unfamiliar operational environment in terms of not only climate and weather but also technology and social behavior. For this, there are several technical issues that must be tackled within a couple of decades. For instance, renewable power sources will accompany high uncertainty (highly depending on the amount of the sunshine and the strength of the wind), and accordingly the system will require much flexibility in various circumstances. Furthermore, the generated electricity from the renewable energy sources is not directly usable mainly due to a mismatch of the current type (DC, direct current) and the voltage level that is much higher than the rated voltage (110 - 220 V) at home. To make it worse, traditional power technologies will no longer be sufficient to deal with the new power system New technologies such as high voltage direct current (HVDC), energy storage system (ESS), and power-to-X (P2X) facilities are going to be embedded in the current alternating current (AC) power system to minimize the energy loss and improve the energy conversion efficiency. Also, as an elemental technology in 2011, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) selected Solid-state transformers (SST) as one of 10 breaking future technologies. To integrate such new technologies with the power grid, a new concept of grid is required. The design of a fundamentally new grid system, the connection structure of power facilities, and their operational activities and way of trade (economics) will be extremely complicated than ever. Therefore, students have to learn relevant tools and knowledge in this track to be able to be experts of grid modernization.
What do we learn from this track?
Grid modernization in KENTECH comprises hierarchical curriculums and research: Power semiconductor - Power electronics - Power system and economics - Power grid and network. The systematically organized program enables students to be able to be prepared for another round of revolution in grid technology.
Students will learn not only textbook knowledge but also have hands-on experiences for various subjects related to the leading technologies of the future power systems. Introducing briefly for complex grid analysis, it is necessary that the interdisciplinary approach between network science and power engineering. Network science, which is based on graph theory, is one of the main tools to analyze the complex structure of a power grid, with which students will conduct network analysis. The numerical analysis will use computational simulations, and therefore, students will also train programming (Python, C, etc) skills. To understand the dynamic behavior of power systems, circuit theory, algebra, and general physics will be part of the theoretical background of the approach.
Students will learn overall knowledge of power systems and economics including power flow analysis, energy market, and power system control. Students in grid modernization track not only understand theory on power systems, but also apply it to new power grids, specifically based on DC technologies and multi energy systems (MESs). Consequently, students will design and analyze a new power grid in the Carbon Neutral Era. To achieve this, computer simulations and hardware tests are used together.
Power semiconductor devices in grid is an elemental technology that converts an injected electricity to a suitable type and a level, such as AC-to-AC, AC-to-DC, DC-to-AC, and DC-to-DC. Solid-state-transformers based on power devices will replace conventional transformers used in AC electric power distribution. To put those figures in context, you will be able to learn about mathematical modelling of power semiconductor, solid-state-physics and electronics, semiconductor devices and operational principles, power semiconductor device and circuit simulations, power semiconductor fabrication process, and several types of power converters used in grid.
Not other institutes but KENTECH
The Grid Modernization is the unique track where one can learn state-of-the-art technologies from the specialized multidisciplinary courses with leading scholars. Each of the faculty members in the track is composed of top experts in each field so that the contents of the courses will be up-to-date as much as they can be applied immediately to students' research. Moreover, it is highly promising for the students in this track to collaborate with the other tracks. For instance, one can co-study Energy AI to develop an intelligent grid control algorithm. Indeed, the future power system requires various hardware and software technologies. Therefore, KENTECH is the best institute to comprehensively learn the modern power grid strategy.
The Grid Modernization is also the largest academic group investigating power engineering. More than 15 professors will be hired in the track, and relative top-tier organizations in Korea such as Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) cooperate with our track. Therefore, students in the Grid Modernization will be brilliant engineers in the field.
What will it mean for my future and career? / What study we can do after graduation?
Carbon neutrality and complete emancipation from fossil fuels are an ongoing revolution that “must” be brought to realization in our lifetime. In the midst of writing a new history, the demand and the value of the engineers who would be able to fundamentally reform and design a nation’s grid are incomparably higher than they used to be.
Fulfilling the requirements for graduation of the Grid Modernization track, a student will be able to understand how the power system works and know practical skills to manage, design, or analyze the system. One may go into one of the main power companies or start up a business in the domain. To be an expert at a more advanced level, graduate school is another option to continue research and study. After graduation, it is expected to become a specialist in the grid modernization domain rather than just graduate as an engineering-major student.