Artificial Intelligence Based Renewable Microgrid & Virtual Power Plant



For more than three decades, Florida International University (FIU) and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) have partnered on various projects to help advance renewable energy use in the state of Florida. The latest of these projects includes incorporating a large scale energy storage renewable resource system into a micro grid that will supply the engineering campus (>1MW). Extensive architecture and control strategy re-design is required to supply power to the interconnected varying loads operating within a defined electrical boundary while incorporating the flexibility to operate in both islanded and grid-connected modes using a centralized controller. The increasing weather anomalies in Florida are one of the causes of power outages. Utilizing the micro grid, the loads at FIU will have the backup from the decentralized renewable resources, in the extreme scenario when both redundant utility supplies are either on outage or taken out of service in preparation of a weather event, thereby increasing the reliability of supply to the loads by 33%.The AI-RM-VPP Research Project is funded by FPL. Leading the effort for FIU is Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. Arif Sarwat, and Project Manager Mrs. Stevany Cole leads the FPL team. The effort involves many leaders from both organizations who have poured their resources to construct and provide one of the most modern grid services framework and learning facilities to the South Florida community.

     Meet the Principal Investigator

Dr. Arif Sarwat
Professor and Director of FPL-FIU Solar Facility and Energy, Power & Sustainability (EPS) 

The North-East corner of FIU Engineering Center (EC) (with total area < 26,000 sq. ft.) is being utilized for installation of the large-scale energy storage (battery) system with underground conduit of approximately 1800 feet connecting the battery site with the solar PV site. Site construction is being led by FPL Site Manager Ms. Natalie Chu.

Meet the Project Manager

Ms. Stevany Cole

Sr. Project Manager- Development,

Florida Power & Light Company

Meet the Construction Manager

Ms. Natalie Chu,

Construction Manager,

Florida Power and Light Company

Meet the Ph.D. Students of EPS Group

Mr. Asadullah Khalid,

Lead Ph.D. student on AI-RM-VPP Project, is developing new machine learning math and algorithms to be validated on the project.

Ms. Shamini Dharmasena,

Lead Ph.D. student on AI-RM-VPP Project, is coordinating the development of Batteries, Inverters, and other components involved.

This effort brings forth the vision of resilient smart connected communities and materializes it by providing the solution to these complex requirements of an independent renewable power source with the construction of a state-of the-art research facility comprising of a large-scale energy storage system, a photovoltaic plant and diesel generators to supply uninterrupted power to the varying EC loads at FIU. The operational controls will be coordinated using a microgrid controller which will allow transition between islanded and grid-connected operations. This research facility’s features are further enhanced by incorporation of machine learning controls to operate the photovoltaic (PV) plant and dynamic islanding, optimization techniques by addressing distributed energy resource management in response to the varying EC load requirements. This research project not only aids in the utilization of a decentralized renewable source which in turn helps in reducing emissions but also promotes and provides the capability to execute EPS Group’s research objectives, which will be supported from the Grid Energy Intelligence Exploration (GENIE) Research Lab.

AI-RM-VPP Research Project Key Components
Dynamic Loads: FIU Engineering Center and Operations/Utility Buildings
Interconnected Distributed Renewable Energy Resources to serve Non-Critical Loads: 1.4MW PV plant 3MW/ 9MWh Battery Energy Storage System
Existing Resources Incorporated to serve Critical Loads: 520kW Diesel Generators
Control Features: Implemented using a Microgrid Controller
Advanced Research Infrastructure: Grid Energy Intelligence Exploration (GENIE) Research Lab
                                             Operational Concept                              Key Research Objectives

The key research objectives of this FPL-FIU research project include, but are not limited to: a) Design and operation of future micro grids, b) Control methodologies development using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning techniques, c) FIU Solar PV plant output smoothing, d) Energy storage system capacity degradation evaluation, e) Islanded and grid-connected frequency response for grid services, f) Next-generation community resiliency improvements for potential manmade or natural disasters, g) Hybrid PV Plant design for optimal performance and system stability schemes. These research objectives will be executed at the GENIE Research lab by field validations, real-time control- and hardware-in-the-loop simulations under dynamic parameter constraint scenarios. This research lab also provides the capability of multi-core processing using real-time systems, smart inverter and battery performance evaluation and control technique development using Battery Management System (BMS) simulation test bench, variable flexible load, along with a 9-bus LabVolt bench for grid-tied operations.


    GENIE Research Lab Equipment: OPAL-RT, LabVolt, and BMS Test Benches, along with a Smart Inverter and multi-core GPU’s.

The infrastructure at this multi-use facility will bring in the capabilities for real time modeling and simulation, and the ability to integrate the AI-RM-VPP research facility. The GENIE research lab is a major addition to the EPS Group’s objectives of a future smart grid with artificial intelligence-based load sharing with distributed energy storage system using novel computational tools. Additional research outputs of this projects will include (but are not limited to): development of predictive control algorithms with smart electronics capable of addressing PV-Battery-Grid integration challenges in a comprehensive fashion, longevity of grid equipment by forecasting safe operation periods, and easier visualization of power flow and fault occurrence in the grid. GENIE acts as a control center simulator, allowing students and researchers to gain field experience on-campus.

Apart from contributing to the reduction of carbon footprints, this research center’s objectives encompass the research, educational, and community benefits and thereby bring forth the preeminence of FIU in Florida. Additionally, this state-of-the-art research center will help our nation to steer closer to the goal of a sustainable future involving a smart clean power grid.


Field Validation, Lab Testing, and Simulation of Real-time grid data                                 Real-time and Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulations

AI-RM-VPP Project Construction Expected Timeline (Year 2020):


If you have any questions, concerns or comments about the project, please feel free to contact the PI directly through e-mail or through the following option. Please add your comments in the fields below.

Contact Us

Contact Information:

  1. Arif Sarwat (PI)

Professor and Director of FPL-FIU Solar Facility and Energy, Power & Sustainability (EPS), Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Phone (office): (305) 348-4941; Phone (Lab): (305) 348 2935; E-mail:; Mail: Florida International University (FIU), 10555 West Flagler St., EC3913, Miami, FL 33174

  1. Stevany Cole (Project Manager, FPL)

Sr. Project Manager – Development, Florida Power and Light Company; E-mail:

  1. Natalie Chu (Site Manager, Florida Power & Light Company)

Construction Manager, Florida Power & Light Company, E-mail: