The Energy Systems Optimization Lab seeks to improve the design, performance, and characterization of energy generation and storage systems by applying advanced simulation and optimization techniques to applied systems.

Mechanical and thermal systems are designed to operate, and a number of factors can affect both performance during operation and the overall useful lifetime of a system. System behavior may respond to fluctuations in weather conditions, market demands, operational setpoints, maintenance history, or natural degradation of components. At ESOLab, we lead and contribute to projects that:

  • Develop simulation tools to accurately predict system behaviors over a time horizon
  • Develop models that characterize instantaneous behaviors of complex optical and thermal systems
  • Research and apply optimization methodologies to improve system efficiency, lifetime, cost-effectiveness, and reliability
  • Utilize expected system operations to identify optimal technology design decisions
  • Facilitate smart control of multiple technologies that can jointly and complementarily meet a market need at reduced net cost
  • Validate control or model outcomes using lab-scale experimental systems

We focus on several technology applications, including concentrating solar power, grid-scale energy storage, “hybrid” systems with multiple generators or storage, and nuclear energy.

Lab News

Our research areas

Energy production scheduling

We research algorithms that optimally schedule production from dispatchable power generators or from energy storage while considering unique technology constraints and component lifetime.

Cumulative production from an optimized hybrid system

Concentrating solar power

CSP uses heat generated by focusing mirrors to produce electricity or provide high-temperatures for thermal processes. We research applications and long-term performance of CSP technologies.

Renewable technology simulation

The long-term cost-effectiveness of renewable technologies can best be assessed using time-series simulation tools. We develop and improve models and algorithms to predict technology performance over time.

Experimental controls validation

The ESOLab partners with the WEMPEC to experimentally validate controls and optimization approaches using power hardware in the loop.

Grants and research projects


  • Project title  | Gen3 Gas-Phase System Development and Demonstration
  • UW Principal Investigator(s)  |  Prof. Mark Anderson, Prof. Mike Wagner
  • Program  |  Solar Energy Technology Office – Concentrating Solar Power
  • Collaborators  |  Shaun Sullivan (PI, Brayton Energy), Ryan Bowers (Advisian/Worley-Parsons), Ty Neises (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
  • Duration  |  2018-2020

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