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POSTECH LabCumentary Youngjin Kim (Electrical Engineering)

Energy System Lab

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Energy System Lab

Youngjin Kim (Electrical Engineering)

Global warming, and the ensuing discontents of climate change left in its wake, are prompting the full global initiative to achieve carbon neutrality. This starts, first and foremost, with reducing the consumption of fossil fuels, which has been singled out as the main offender responsible for global warning. As fossil fuels are primarily used to generate electricity, alternative renewable energy sources – wind power or photovoltaics – are being widely adopted as sources of power generation. The wind power generators installed at Saemangeum in North Jeolla Province, serve as a prime example of this shift, and the Korean government is planning to also develop a 2.4GW-scale wind power farm in this region, which will provide electricity to 2.24 million households simultaneously. Reliable connection is the key to operating such large-scale wind farms. The caveat, however, is that severe power fluctuations and instability that are inherent in wind power generation could result in decreased power quality or wide-scale power outages in case there is no appropriate control technology.
 
The Energy Systems Laboratory, headed by Professor Youngjin Kim at the Department of Electrical Engineering, POSTECH, develops control technology that enables the reliable connection of large-scale wind power farms. Researchers at the Lab are exploring optimal operational and control algorithms by identifying the physical characteristics of power systems and analyzing the associated data.
 
To this end, the Lab developed distributed control technology that ensures the reliable connection of large-scale wind power farms. However, due to the unique characteristics of power systems, it was difficult to verify such technology on demonstration infrastructure. To remedy this, researchers at the Lab established Power Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation (PHILIS) capabilities and identified ways to regulate the instability and uncertainty of power systems that could be caused by delays in communication time. This led to upwards of a 60% reduction in power network frequency variations when applied to connecting an 800MW-capacity wind power farm. Invariably, this laid the groundwork in promoting reliable connections among wind power generators.
 
Not only does the research team provide technology for the efficient and stable operation/control of power systems, it is also developing monitoring technology through power data collection and processing, as well as data-driven digital twin models for electric devices. Since Professor Kim first joined POSTECH in September 2016, nearly 30 papers have been published. In total, 15 patent applications and registrations were made in Korea and five such applications and registrations were made overseas. Moreover, six of the Lab’s papers were honored with the ‘Excellent Paper Award’ by the Korean Institute of Electrical Engineers, the largest academic institute in the power system sector, in 2019 and 2020.
 
“One single failure occurring on the power system could take a devastating toll on the whole of society, and research in this field targets social infrastructure currently under operation, which gives us much to look after and consider”, Professor Kim commented, and highlighted “Conversely, it is highly rewarding when improvements could be made in terms of efficiency and reliability, and also appealing that big data, AI and other cutting-edge technologies could be applied to actual systems, in addition to existing mathematical modeling techniques”.

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