Discussion and Recommendations
The discussion among workshop participants took place after all presentations were made and involved representatives from: Virginia Tech, Southeast University, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), China Electric Power Research Institute (CEPRI) and State Grid Electric Power Research Institute (SGEPRI). The discussion focused on identifying possible research collaboration and faculty/student exchange opportunities among US and Chinese universities with the support from the governments and industries in both US and China.
The following topics were discussed:
1) How would organizations in China support such collaborative work?
With the new State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) research center in California, USA, there are expected to be more interactions among the US and Chinese researchers. Right now it is difficult to get funding for US researchers directly from China due to limited availability of funding for foreigners. The SGCC center in CA focuses on topics beyond traditional power systems. This may include interdisciplinary research fields that encompass computer science, communications, sensing, controls and protocols. To get funding for joint US-Chinese projects, the US team needs to find its Chinese counterpart and jointly submit the proposal to SGCC. The team can invite people from SGCC and CEPRI to review and make comments on the proposal.
In China, there are three main funding sources: (1) Ministry of Science and Technology; (2) Industry; and (3) NSF China (NSFC). The Ministry of Science and Technology does not pay for foreign researchers, but can support international travel for Chinese experts to travel to foreign countries. Funding from the Chinese industry should be spent in China. Funding from NSFC, however, can be used in support of international collaborative projects. It was suggested that PIs from US and China write two separate proposals, one to submit to US NSF and the other to submit to NSF China. Deadlines for such a proposal submission to NSFC are in December of each year, in which case proposal preparation should start in March.
To be successful in getting proposals funded, the proposed research work must be built upon existing working relationships among university partners. Relationship building will take years, and can be start from workshops like this one where researchers describe in more detail their ongoing work, which cannot always be understood from published papers. Discussions at these workshops can also help to identify mutual interests, possible collaborative research areas, and joint publication outlines, etc.
2) Joint Collaboration
Four possible collaboration opportunities among US and Chinese experts were identified.
A) Joint Research
It was agreed by most that the focus for collaborative research should not be on pure power systems. Two possible joint research areas were identified based on ongoing research work at participating organizations.
- a) Demand response topics that involve sensing, control, communications, remote access and building energy management software. This is a hot topic in the US as US Government has an interest to reduce overall energy consumption in buildings. In addition, after Summer 2014, it is required by law in California, USA, that buildings over 10,000 sq ft must be demand response ready.
- b) Co-simulation between power systems and communication networks is a new trend in current power system research. Examples of possible topics may include identifying impact of communication failures (e.g., data drops, data transmission delays, communication errors) on power system operationsd at both transmission and distribution levels. With this knowledge of communication failures, an approach to make power systems more resilient can be proposed.
- c) Demand response opportunities based on a group of thermal storage loads, e.g., air conditioners and electric water heaters, and traditional energy storage technologies, e.g., distributed battery storage, pump hydro and compressed air energy storage. These distributed/centralized storage options can be used to mitigate impact of fluctuations in renewable energy sources.
B) Joint Publications
Participants also talked about how to initiate joint publications between US and China. It was recommended to start from common research interests where students and faculty members from both US and China are already working together. Discussions and exchange of ideas can be done remotely.
C) Student Exchanges
A short-term visit of Chinese students to the US is possible. China has scholarships available for Chinese students and post-docs to come to the US for up to 1 year. Similarly, US students can also conduct research in China for a short time. The Chinese university will bear their local expenses.
D) Short-term scholar course
China can also invite US faculty members to teach a 1-credit hour short course in China for two weeks.
3) Follow-up discussion
To follow up this lively discussion, we expect to organize a two-hour meeting at the IEEE Power & Energy Society General Meeting (PESGM) to be held in Washington, DC, area in July 2014. A select group of faculty members from both US and China will be invited. Interested program directors from both NSF (USA) and NSFC (China) are also expected to attend.