MARCH 2, 2021 — Statewide power outages during February’s polar vortex have lawmakers and utility executives assessing the viability of our current electric grid. ERCOT and local utility operators in Texas are being asked tough questions about what went wrong and what will be done to prevent extensive blackouts from happening again. Supporters of full-scale smart grids believe this should be an integral part of the state’s future energy strategy.
Nikolaos Gatsis, UTSA assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and Lutcher Brown Endowed Fellow, teaches a senior level class on power systems analysis and has extensive knowledge on smart grids and smart cities. He believes the smart grid concept offers several benefits to manage electricity demand and coordinate power generated from traditional and non-traditional sources.
“A smart grid involves a host of technologies and operating procedures that make energy delivery more reliable and economical, and that’s something we’re all looking for,” said Gatsis.
On the operational side, smart grids use GPS software to control the transmission and distribution of electricity. A downside is the software is under constant attack from an array of cyber-hackers. Gatsis, and fellow UTSA researchers David Akopian and Ahmad F. Taha, along with Ph.D. graduate students Ali Khalajmehrabadi and Erick Schmidt, developed an effective computer algorithm that mitigates the effects of GPS spoofing attacks on electrical grids and other GPS-reliant technologies.
“Algorithms are the key and there is certainly a need for continued development of smart algorithms to use in control technology,” said Gatsis. “Governmental agencies are very interested in advancements in algorithms to protect against cyber-attacks. Through our research at UTSA, we have made significant strides in security of critical infrastructures such as the GPS and the power grids.”
An aspect of the smart grid is the interaction between electricity and water. Through a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Gatsis is studying how electricity distribution networks and water distribution systems can work in tandem to provide more a reliable and cost-effective service to consumers.
“There’s a lot of interdependency because water pumps rely on electricity. Our smart grid approach would use technology to schedule water pumps to run when prices are the cheapest and with minimal load impact on the grid,” Gatsis explained. “The use of specialized turbines is another smart grid possibility to increase or reduce pressure through computerized controls. They can even potentially be used to generate electricity for self-operation or distribute energy back into the grid.”
Smart grids also involve continued use of renewable energy sources. Gatsis maintains these renewable energy sources should be a growing part of our state’s energy portfolio. While solutions could be developed to help keep wind turbines from freezing, solar panels continue to produce energy in 10-degree temperatures as long as the sun is shining, which it was during San Antonio’s coldest day of the winter blast.
“When solar panels are mounted on rooftops, the consumer now becomes a power generator and this has a cumulative effect on reducing demand from the grid,” Gatsis said.
For Gatsis and many other proponents, the many benefits of smart grids and smart cities are clear. The question is whether utility executives and state lawmakers can pivot to an electricity generation mindset that relies more on technology and continued adoption of renewable energy sources.
“The technology exists to move forward but the question is whether the electric management authorities in Texas are now willing to implement it.”
UTSA invites you to participate in our community altar by RSVP to this event. You can also use this link to learn more about Día de Los Muertos:https://anendlessconnection.weebly.com/the-project.html.Student Union Window Lounge, Main Campus
October 28th celebrates National Immigrants Day. On this day, we gather to explore the diverse heritage of our nation’s social fabric. We dedicate this day to understanding how our nation was founded and built by immigrants. Our goal is for the UTSA family to recognize and celebrate how all immigrants, regardless of their citizenship status, contribute to our community through their resiliency and ingenuity.Multicultural Student Lounge, HSU 2.207, Main Campus
The COLFA Advanced Career Pathways Workshops are focused on connecting your education with your career aspirations and exploring your pathways to reach your goal.Mesquite Room, Student Union, 2.01.24, Main Campus
The Westside Community Center will be creating an altar or "ofrenda" as many do within San Antonio and the Westside for "Dia de los Muertos." If you would like to participate, we invite you to send in a photo of a loved one that will be placed in this space. You are welcome to join us on October 28th at 3:00 pm to set up the space and come see us at the Westside Community Center.UTSA Westside Community Center, 1310 Guadalupe St., San Antonio, TX 78207
Blueprints For Pangaea is hosting its first on-campus inventory event of the semester! Join us for a Halloween-themed afternoon where we'll inventory medical supplies while enjoying Halloween movies. By the end of the event, you will have positively impacted the health of hundreds of individuals. We require at least one hour of attendance and come dressed up because the best costumes will earn awards.Flawn Sciences Building, 3.02.02, Main Campus
Chris Villanueva and other jazz faculty will perform standards in this concert. More details to come. The Fall 2021 concert schedule is subject to change. Please continue to monitor our website and social media for updates. This concert will be live-streamed via the UTSA Music Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/UTSAMusic When:UTSA Recital Hall, Main Campus
UTSA Sustainability will have three courses of varying difficulty to accommodate different ages and abilities. There will a one mile walk on generally level surface to introduce you to the student run community garden, a longer walk with stairs and topo changes, and a five mile bike ride to introduce you to the Leon Greenway.Tito Bradshaw Bicycle Repair Shop Ximenes Ave, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.