WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity (OE) announced $6.7 million in funding for four university-led research projects to design and develop approaches to integrate Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Specifically, these projects aim to provide the energy infrastructure community with robust, scalable methods to interface with advanced IoT technologies.

The interconnection of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other technologies that have the capacity to send and receive data offers the promise of advanced services stemming from new connections between digital and physical grid systems based on improved communication and control technologies.

The university-led research teams (in partnership with industry, National Laboratories, or research consortia) will focus their research on methods to enhance coordination between these networks of devices to extend operational performance, including maintaining energy supply to critical defense facilities, regardless of whether they are distribution or transmission connected.

“These awards continue the Trump Administration’s commitment to ensure the Nation’s critical energy infrastructure is secure and able to recover rapidly from potential disruptions,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “In addition, they will support DOE’s effort to invest in next-generation technologies and tools that will improve the security and resilience of the nation’s critical energy infrastructure.”

The projects will help provide the energy infrastructure community with knowledge, innovative technology, tools, and approaches that facilitate transparent, secure, and trusted transactions with diverse customers capable of both producing and consuming energy. Customers will interface with the advanced, and rapidly developing, technologies typically found in military, industrial, commercial, and residential settings. Projects will consider how IoT permeates multiple interdependent critical infrastructures (for example: oil and gas, communications, water, and transportation), and consider solutions that encompass this larger context.

The final funding amount for each of the awards will be determined during a negotiation process.  The projects include:

Stanford University

TrustDER: Trusted, Private and Scalable Coordination of Distributed Energy Resources

Stanford University will develop TrustDER, a trusted coordination stack that combines recent developments in machine learning, computer systems, and safety and distributed trust mechanisms to design a robust and resilient coordination platform. The platform can be used as a standalone, or added to existing aggregation systems to enable trust, privacy, and resilience. If successful, TrustDER will enable individually owned energy assets to be coordinated utilizing ad-hoc, Wi-Fi, or other network services in a secure, private, scalable, and efficient manner increasing utilization, reliability and reducing ownership cost of distributed energy assets.

Purdue University

Communication-Constrained Robust Control and Learning of Grid-Connected IoT

Purdue University will develop the technology for an Energy Service Interface (ESI) that includes novel pricing, control, learning, and distributed optimization algorithms, which will enable utilities to recruit assets for crucial grid services such as load flexibility, voltage/frequency regulation, and situation-awareness. The technology features the careful distribution of learning and control functions across utility and asset owners such that provably efficient and resilient grid operations are attained while respecting communication and information-exchange constraints. The project team will also develop software that can assist utility personnel in leveraging assets to accelerate the service recovery of damaged feeders, and distributed optimization algorithms that can coordinate the operation points of devices under severe communication constraints.

Portland State University

Development of Energy Services Interface for the EGoT

Portland State University will develop an Energy Services Interface (ESI) that provides a trustworthy link between Grid Service Providers (GSP) and Service-Provisioning Consumers (SPC). The ESI will provide a means for SPCs, who own multiple diverse distributed energy resources (DER), to offer their DER to GSPs interested in provisioning large numbers of assets to provide grid services to Grid Operators (GO). The ESI will include a Distributed Trust Model (DTM) and provide a defined application profile for grid services dispatch that will facilitate the development of an open trustworthy grid-services ecosystem. The project team will develop a prototype grid services provisioning system capable of aggregating large numbers of residential DER. The system will model the interactions between the GO, several GSPs, SPCs within a defense facility, and adjacent community SPCs that can be harnessed to enhance reliability and provide resiliency. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Efficient UltRa Endpoint IoT-enabled Coordinated Architecture

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will develop an architecture, the Efficient UltRa Endpoint IoT-enabled Coordinated Architecture (EUREICA), for distributed networking of widespread IoT and grid assets leading to enhanced power system resilience. The project team defines a resilient grid-edge as the rapid restoration of loads served in a distribution system from a critical threshold of 5% to a target of 80% or above, when subjected to various contingencies. The project team will show how EUREICA can be used to optimize grid services such as voltage regulation in blue sky operation and for resiliency in black sky operation. The direct implication of these demonstrations is that they enable secure deployment on military bases that would assist them in operating as islanded microgrids in the future.