The Challenge

Decarbonization will require a rapid and massive transformation of the U.S. energy system and necessitate changes to the way institutions plan, operate, and regulate the electric grid. The supply and demand of electricity, which was once predictable, is rapidly becoming more variable and uncertain. One-way power flows are becoming two-way power and information flows require new control and coordination solutions to reliably integrate more clean energy technologies and increase the range of energy system participants.

Improving planning, operations, and market designs will require coordination across jurisdictional boundaries, and previously siloed processes need to be combined as grid, buildings, transportation, fuel, and communications infrastructures become more interdependent. In addition, investment strategies that relied on economic solutions will now need to factor in social concerns that include equity, resilience, and decarbonization. Emerging power system transformation issues facing regulators, state officials, utilities, and planners are highly complex and interrelated. These stakeholders need to quickly understand these interdependencies and how to plan for them.

Contact

To learn more, get engaged, or seek assistance please reach out to:

Paul Spitsen – Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Joe Paladino – Office of Electricity

Goals and Engagement Strategy

All these challenges require new approaches for designing and managing the electric power system. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Grid Solution Program seeks to tackle this head-on by providing holistic solutions to address key grid challenges before they become major obstacles for the deployment of clean energy and infrastructure technologies.

This program focuses on solving cutting-edge challenges and supporting the institutional innovators and industry leaders who are looking to address them. Through this program, DOE will work hand-in-hand with stakeholders through a variety of mechanisms (workshops, conferences, advisory committees, etc.) to proactively identify key challenges, jointly develop solutions (new data, methodology, tools, guidelines, training materials, and other forms of technical assistance), pilot ideas in the real world, disseminate best practices, and facilitate peer learning.

The Grid Solutions Program is a joint effort from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Grid Deployment Office, and Office of Electricity.

Key partners in the effort are the National Association of State Energy Officials, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Electric Power Research Institute, Electricity System Integration Group, and Regulatory Assistance Project.

Current Focus Areas

The program currently focuses on integrated energy planning, resource adequacy, and electricity markets, but is designed to be agile and adapt in the future, based on stakeholder needs.

Effective energy system planning is essential to ensure optimal clean energy and grid infrastructure portfolio investments are made that maximize reliability, resilience, affordability, and equity. The proliferation of renewable energy technologies, distributed energy resources, and new grid technologies reinforces the need for utilities and other grid planners to engage in integrated planning processes that target all elements that impact distribution networks and the bulk power system. Decision makers also are trying to include new considerations such as resilience, equity, and decarbonization alongside traditional economics objectives.

Efforts under the Grid Solutions Program's Integrated Planning Pillar include:

  • Electrification Impacts on Distribution System Planning
  • Distributed Energy Resources Forecasting for Operations
  • State of Distribution System Coordination
  • Roadmap for Increased Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Integration
  • Distribution Scenario Planning
  • Right Sizing Distribution Systems to Support Decarbonization
  • Integrated Distribution System Planning Trainings
  • Guide for States on Integrated Distribution Planning Concepts
  • Translating Equity Considerations into Utility Performance Metrics
  • IDP Case Studies
  • National Association of State Energy Officials/National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Distributed Energy Resources Integration Task Force.

Examples of current technical assistance include:

  • Rhode Island—Distribution System Planning with Community Input
  • Maine—Integrated System Planning & Grid Modernization
  • New Jersey—Integrated Distribution System Planning & Updated Requirements
  • Louisiana—Resilience
  • New Mexico —Grid Modernization Planning Requirements
  • Maryland—Integrated Distribution System Planning
  • Alaska—Potential Renewable Portfolio Standard Analysis  

Resource adequacy is the capability of the electric grid to meet electric demand at all times, which means having enough resources where and when they are needed. Resource adequacy modeling is a critical component of the overall power system planning process. Historically, resource adequacy tools have relied on a series of simplifications, such as independent outages and a limited set of representative weather years (often with only typical conditions). However, a host of complexities associated with the ongoing power system transformation and changing weather patterns necessitate improved resource adequacy modeling methods.

Efforts under the Grid Solutions Program Resource Adequacy Pillar include:

  • Current State of Resource Adequacy Planning
  • Resource Adequacy Tool Comparison
  • Resource Adequacy Data Repository.

Market evolution is critical to enable the effective participation of new energy technologies, ensure reliability and resilience, maintain customer affordability, and a transition to clean energy future. Experts from the national labs, industry, and academia will collaboratively identify and address medium-term market design challenges in conjunction with participants from the independent system operators/regional transmission organizations. Additionally, DOE wants to support states to assess the costs, benefits, and trade-offs of potentially joining organized electricity markets.

Efforts under the Grid Solutions Program's Electricity Markets Pillar include:

  • Assessing Electricity Market Designs for a Decarbonized Future
  • Assessing the Potential Benefits of Organized Electricity Markets in the Western United States.