This week, the Energy Department announced up to $32 million for seven Resilient Distribution Systems projects, which will support early stage research and development of next-generation tools and technologies that will further improve the resilience of the nation's electric grid. This is the second round of funding under the Department’s Grid Modernization Initiative, a DOE-wide collaboration primarily supported by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
To keep America competitive and secure, the electric grid must continue to evolve through a variety of challenges and opportunities, including a changing mix of electricity generation, consumers participating in electricity markets, the growth of Internet-connected devices, severe weather, cyber threats, and aging electricity infrastructure. This investment builds on DOE’s ongoing efforts to set the nation on a path to the rapid development and widespread adoption of tools and technologies that will help create a more resilient, secure, sustainable, and reliable grid that can meet the demands of the 21st century and beyond.
“A resilient, reliable, and secure power grid is essential to the nation’s security, economy, and the vital services that Americans depend on every day,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “As round-the-clock efforts continue to help communities recover from the devastation of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the need to continue strengthening and improving our electricity delivery system to withstand and recover from disruptions has become even more compelling. By leveraging the world-class innovation of the national laboratories and their partners, this investment will keep us moving forward to create yet more real-world capabilities that the energy sector can put into practice to continue improving the resilience and security of the country’s critical energy infrastructure.”
EERE’s Building Technologies Office, Solar Energy Technologies Office, and Water Power Technologies Office will fund up to half of the lab call awards. These offices are interested in using their technologies to support a more resilient electricity system. For example, one of the projects will focus on restoring electricity through the use of distributed energy resources, energy storage, and microgrids.
The seven Resilient Distribution Systems projects were awarded to DOE’s Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC), which will develop and validate innovative approaches to enhance the resilience of distribution systems, including microgrids, with high levels of clean, distributed energy resources and emerging grid technologies at regional scale. The project results are expected to deliver credible information on the technical and economic viability of a range of technologies, as well as demonstrate new solutions to key stakeholders who are ultimately responsible for approving and investing in grid modernization activities. Final award amounts are subject to negotiation.
DOE’s Grid Modernization Initiative focuses on the development of new architectural concepts, tools, and technologies that measure, analyze, predict, protect, and control the grid of the future, and on enabling the institutional conditions that allow for more rapid development and widespread adoption of these tools and technologies.