Protecting the Power Grid

Colorado State University Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Siddharth Suryanarayanan and his research group have successfully teamed with U.S. and international partners in the first live demonstration of the Real-Time SuperLab concept. The team is developing technologies to reroute electricity, not only within regional networks but also across continents, avoiding large-scale power grid blackouts by detecting and smoothing disruptions in the interlinked system.

Siddharth Suryanarayanan, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering works with students at the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory. October 21, 2011 (Photo Credit: Colorado State University Photography)
Siddharth Suryanarayanan, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering works with students at the Advanced Power Engineering Laboratory (APEL). (Photo credit: Colorado State University Photography)

Suryanarayanan is the director of the Advanced Power Engineering Laboratory (APEL) at CSU and the inaugural recipient of the Lisa and Desi Rhoden College Professorship in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Under his supervision, APEL scholars and students are performing high-profile, high-impact sponsored research in smart grid technologies and next-generation electricity infrastructure. Suryanarayanan also holds an appointment in the Systems Engineering program, specializing in power and energy. His excellence in teaching and mentoring was recently nationally recognized through the IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu Honor Society’s C. Holmes MacDonald Outstanding Teaching Award.

Real-Time Superlab

The Real-Time SuperLab project, led by Idaho National Laboratory (INL), synchronizes computer-based simulations at partner laboratories with actual hardware, such as wind turbines, solar inverters, batteries and electric vehicles, a capability called “power hardware in the loop,” to simulate a widespread power system environment. Suryanarayanan’s group is a key RT SuperLab partner, contributing their high-performance computer-based energy management system to the effort. Increased resilience of global power grids and decreased costs of infrastructure and energy consumption are expected outcomes of the SuperLab partnership.

Real-Time SuperLab project partners
Source: Idaho National Laboratory


  • Sandia National Laboratory
  • Colorado State University
  • Washington State University
  • University of South Carolina 
  • Aachen University
  • Polytechnic University of Turin
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 
  • Idaho National Laboratory (INL)


Suryanarayanan’s group is among the first in the nation to apply high-performance computing (HPC) techniques to the management of the electric grid. They have entered into a newly-sponsored research venture with INL, to investigate the use of HPC in developing faster-than-real-time approaches to dynamically changing the electric power protection settings in the grid, to help hasten the penetration of renewable energy into energy markets. A National Science Foundation-sponsored collaborative research award with South Dakota State University on HPC-based resource management in the Smart Grid is revealing new possibilities for easing the stress on the power grid during peak demand hours in a sustainable way.

Both projects use the Summit HPC system, which has more than 10,000 processing units and allows the execution of scientific calculations up to 50 times faster than a high-end desktop computer. This recently-acquired HPC system is a collaborative effort with the University of Colorado at Boulder, supported by a $3.9 million joint National Science Foundation award.


Prior to joining the faculty in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, Suryanarayanan earned a doctorate in electrical engineering in 2004 from Arizona State University (ASU) and served on the faculties of ASU, Florida State University, and Colorado School of Mines. His research interests encompass:

  • The development of microgrids for civilian, military, and relief/recovery applications;
  • Renewable energy and technologies integration to the power grid;
  • Energy management systems and resource allocation techniques;
  • Modernization of electricity grids in developing economies.

In addition to their work in high-performance computer-based energy management, Suryanarayanan’s group is working on efforts to bring electricity to remote parts of the world, and on modernization of electricity infrastructure in developing economies. Suryanarayanan is an inductee in the Fulbright Specialist Program Roster in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, where he is serving a 3-year term that began in June 2017.

Make the connection

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Smart Village Microgrids

Suryanarayanan is affiliated with the CSU Energy Institute, a campus-wide effort dedicated to developing innovative solutions to energy challenges with global impact. A current Energy Institute project is the Smart Village Microgrids, aimed at the design and field testing of modular clean energy microgrids and the development of an integrated micro-utility approach as a catalyst for rural economic development.