Electrical engineer explores quantum computing for renewable power systems

November 3, 2022

By Mary Fetzer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Yan Li, assistant professor of electrical engineering at Penn State, was awarded a three-year, $510,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research to develop quantum computing algorithms to explore operational mechanisms of nonlinear power systems and computational resources needed for renewable energy applications.

“Monitoring, operating and controlling nonlinear renewable energy systems — such as distributed energy resources like solar panels, battery storage, wind turbines and electric vehicles — place a high demand on computational sources,” Li said. “I want to use quantum technology to improve calculation and analysis efficiency and help prevent energy disruptions and ensure energy availability and reliability.”

Li said she plans to first address how to transform the complicated dynamic models of nonlinear renewable power systems to a linear space to bridge the gap between the power systems and quantum computing. From there, she aims to develop quantum algorithms that can quickly calculate the dynamics of original nonlinear systems. With the new control algorithms, Li said she will leverage quantum computing to perform quick calculations and analyses for real-time applications and operations.

According to Li, the project will produce an inspirational model in addition to the computational ones.   

“I hope to leverage this project as a model to inspire underrepresented students to consider entering the challenging field of quantum computing and mechanics,” Li said, who noted that her team includes undergraduate students who are building solar panels, master’s students who are examining computing and doctoral students who are developing the algorithms.


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