Featured Student Project

Renewable Energy

Andrew Ponec, Stanford University Class of 2015, researches renewable power sources.

Andrew Ponec '15 won an Introductory Seminar Excellence Award for his project on the issues of renewable energy and integration to existing power grids in  Energy Choices for the 21st Century, taught by Professor John Fox and Professor Ted Geballe.  Andrew investigated whether renewable generators will contribute to grid instability unless they are backed up by large electricity storage projects, the primary claim used against wide-spread adoption of alternative energies.  In this paper, Andrew examined the difficulties of integrating variable renewables into the current grid, and established that renewables have almost no impact on grid stability even at surprisingly high penetrations (20% of total electricity).  Andrew demonstrated this result by showing that grip operators currently deal with demand fluctuations much larger than the supply fluctuations imposed by low penetrations of variable renewables.  Andrew also examined the options for accommodating renewable penetrations up to 80%, and showed that non-storage options such as transmission improvement and demand-side management are currently more attractive than storage.  

About Andrew

Andrew Ponec is a sophomore studying the energy applications of materials science and engineering.  His major interests are in decreasing the cost of solar energy, improving energy efficiency in building and automobiles, and improving the capabilities of energy storage for transportation applications.  He currently is researching new materials for organic solar cells and developing power electronics technology to boost the output of large solar installations.  When he is not working on energy technologies, Andrew enjoys playing the cello and gardening.