Princeton University

School of Engineering & Applied Science

Data and models, their role in the design and operation of future electricity grids

Mark O’Malley, University College Dublin
B205 Engineering Quadrangle
Monday, February 25, 2019 - 4:30pm


The levels of variable renewable energy in our electricity grids is increasing rapidly with some systems recording extremely high penetrations (e.g. up to 100 %).  At these high penetration levels, the fundamental characteristics of the electricity grid are changed and there is a need to rethink how we design and operate electricity grids.   This transition will need to be managed carefully in order to avoid reliability impacts and excessive costs.  The role of quality data, derived from measurement and experimentation, and models of the grid, including networks, generators and demand, will be central to success.   I will present my group’s work on power system dynamics, analysis and optimization, grounded in data and models, that have allowed real grids to increase their penetration levels of variable renewable energy.  Future challenges at very high penetrations will be described and the need for better data and models will be highlighted.



Mark O’Malley is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at University College Dublin, currently on sabbatical as Chief Scientist, Energy Systems Integration at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USA.  He is a Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering, a member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and has received two Fulbright Fellowships.  He is recognized as a world authority on Energy Systems Integration and in particular grid integration of renewable energy.  He works closely and collaboratively with researchers in other disciplines, including economists, social scientists and geologists, and is on the advisory board of the European Platform for Energy Research in the Socio-Economic Nexus.  Most recently, he was the James M. Flaherty Visiting Professor in Electrical Engineering at McGill University where he worked on strategies to decarbonize the combined Eastern Canada and North Eastern US electricity grids.   He has very strong industry collaborations and is the Chair of the Research and Education working group of the Energy Systems Integration Group, a global organization that brings together industry, regulators, policy makers and the research community to further our collective knowledge and understanding in Energy Systems Integration.