Research Engineer Olaolu Ajala (MS’14, PhD ’18) (left) and
Professor Alejandro Domínguez-García (right) in their research lab

Illinois ECE Professor Alejandro Domínguez-García and Research Engineer Olaolu Ajala are part of a $25 million Department of Energy-funded consortium that is addressing the reliability challenges involved in integrating more solar and wind energy onto the nation’s electric grid.
The Universal Interoperability for Grid-Forming Inverters (UNIFI) consortium brings together leading researchers from more than 40 university, industry, and utility organizations to evaluate and design grid-forming inverter solutions that will enable the seamless integration of inverter-based renewable resources while ensuring the grid’s stability and reliability.
“What we aim to do is figure out how to operate the power grid with a very large amount of renewable-based generation instead of using fossil fuel generating units,” said Alejandro. “The technology we need to use to achieve that is very different from the technology we currently have in the grid for generating power.” Alejandro and Olaolu will apply their expertise in control algorithm design, modeling, and simulation, to ensure that a future renewable-based system operates reliably.
“You don’t have the luxury to [validate your designs] in a real power system because it is already in operation,” Olaolu added. Instead, the Illinois researchers will perform testing and validation of their algorithms in a hardware-in-the-loop emulation environment, a sophisticated simulation technique of a real system that has been used by the automotive and aircraft industries for years. They’ll also examine how to scale their emulation schemes to large-scale power grids.
UNIFI is led by the National Renewable Energy Lab, the University of Washington, and the Electric Power Research Institute.

See 12/6/2021 article by Laura Schmitt from which this piece was excerpted: ECE Professor Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia and Research Engineer and wind energy into the nation’s electric grid.