The Advanced Systems Integration for Solar Technologies (ASSIST): Situational Awareness and Resilient Solutions for Critical Infrastructure funding program will improve situational awareness of solar energy systems, especially at critical infrastructure sites, increase resilience to cyber and physical threats, and strengthen solar integration on the grid. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the program on October 15, 2018, and on March 25, 2019, it announced 10 project selections.


As more solar energy systems are installed across the country, grid operators must be able to ensure grid reliability and deliver energy to critical infrastructure while mitigating physical and cyber threats. These projects aim to streamline technology transfer, invent tools to manage situational awareness, and validate technologies that will help the grid withstand disruption and continually provide electricity to customers.

The projects fall under two topics:

  • Research, Development, and Technology Transfer for Solar Situational Awareness
    These projects will aim to create tools and models that show how solar situational awareness will enhance power-system resilience at critical infrastructure locations.
  • Research, Development, Technology Transfer, and Validation of Proactive Resilience Solutions
    These projects include field testing to show how solar situational awareness can enhance grid resiliency with high penetrations of photovoltaics (PV). To secure power to critical infrastructure during widespread disruptions from cyber or natural threats, these project teams will work with partners to validate solutions in the field.  


Projects in this funding program will design control strategies, real-time system monitoring, robust communications, and other innovative approaches to increase grid resilience, reliability, and security while lowering the costs of solar energy. To this end, ensuring solar technologies are compatible with the grid is a priority.


-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

TOPIC 1.1: Research, Development, and Technology Transfer for Solar Situational Awareness

Arizona State University

Project Name: Enhancing Grid Reliability and Resilience through Novel Distributed Energy Resource Control, Total Situational Awareness, and Integrated Distribution-Transmission Representation
Location: Tempe, AZ
DOE Award Amount: $3.6 million
Awardee Cost Share: $900,000
Project Summary: Arizona State University will build enhanced grid models by integrating transmission and distribution analyses. Using sensors and communications equipment, this tool can enable coordinated distributed resource responses, which can help increase the amount of renewable power operating in the distribution system.

Kansas State University

Project Name: Enabling Cybersecurity, Situational Awareness and Resilience in Distribution Grids with High Penetration of Photovoltaics
Location: Manhattan, KS
DOE Award Amount: $2.9 million
Awardee Cost Share: $700,000
Project Summary: Kansas State University will invent a compressive sensing method that requires fewer inputs than usual so grid operators can observe quickly changing grid conditions and determine vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. The team is developing smart inverter controls to detect cyber intrusions and initiate network defenses. 

North Carolina State University

Project Name: Photovoltaic Analysis and Response Support Platform for Solar Situational Awareness and Resiliency Services
Location: Raleigh, NC
DOE Award Amount: $3 million
Awardee Cost Share: $800,000
Project Summary: North Carolina State University will design a modeling tool to determine the optimal response of renewables on transmission and distribution systems, as well as behind-the-meter response for small-scale solar energy systems. With real-time sensor readings and a cost-benefit analysis, this tool can be used for grid planning and to help restore power during an outage.

Siemens Corporation

Project Name: Autonomous and Resilient Operation of Energy Systems with Renewables
Location: Princeton, NJ
DOE Award Amount: $5 million
Awardee Cost Share: $1.4 million
Project Summary: Siemens Corporation will create a microgrid control system that can coordinate distributed microgrids to work together. The system will include a communications-free method to increase grid resilience and autonomously restore power during a blackout using smart inverters. 

University of Oklahoma

Project Name: Protection and Restoration Solutions to Reliable and Resilient Integration of Grid-Connected Photovoltaic Installations and Distributed Energy Resources: Design, Testbed, Proof of Work, and Impact Studies
Location: Norman, OK
DOE Award Amount: $4.5 million
Awardee Cost Share: $1.7 million
Project Summary: The University of Oklahoma will build an intelligent sensor network that communicates with the distribution system. The network will autonomously detect and isolate problems while using solar energy to help restore power to the distribution grid after an outage. 

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Project Name: Optimal Reconfiguration and Resilient Control Framework for Real-Time Photovoltaic Dispatch to Manage Critical Infrastructure
Location: Charlotte, NC
DOE Award Amount: $3.7 million
Awardee Cost Share: $900,000
Project Summary: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte will devise a grid management tool that detects cyber and physical threats and can form dynamic clusters to optimally manage photovoltaics and energy storage to improve grid resiliency and support critical infrastructure. This tool will have two-level control with reconfigurable grid networks, which allow operators to isolate damaged sections while still powering the rest of the grid. 

University of South Florida

Project Name: Modeling and Control of Solar Photovoltaics for Large Grid Disturbances and Weak Grids
Location: Tampa, FL
DOE Award Amount: $1 million
Awardee Cost Share: $300,000
Project Summary: The University of South Florida will design dynamic models of utility-scale solar plants and their interactions on grids with large penetrations of generation through distributed energy resources like solar-plus-storage systems and wind power. These models will be used to construct a coordination strategy and a stability enhancement module for photovoltaic and storage systems so they can respond to rapidly changing grid conditions. 

Topic 1.2: Research, Development, Technology Transfer and Validation of Proactive Resilience Solutions

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)

Project Name: Solar Critical Infrastructure Energization System
Location: Knoxville, TN
DOE Award Amount: $5 million
Awardee Cost Share: $3.6 million
Project Summary: EPRI will develop a pre-planning analysis technique, using new communications standards and advanced inverters, to determine how to methodically supply power to critical infrastructure with any resource available on the grid. To validate this technique, EPRI will work with several partners, including Austin Energy and Pecan Street.

Electrical Distribution Design

Project Name: Faster-than-Real-Time Simulation with Demonstration for Resilient Distributed Energy Resource Integration
Location: Blacksburg, VA
DOE Award Amount: $3 million
Awardee Cost Share: $2.6 million
Project Summary: Electrical Distribution Design will invent a technique to speed analysis of power flow using graphic trace analysis, or outputs from a bar graph instead of complex calculations, and then validate it in the field with its project partner, Pepco. This will enable evaluation of the distribution network down to the secondary network and allow for rapid detection of power system abnormalities caused by instability, cyber intrusion, or other factors.

University of Utah

Project Name: Solar-Assisted State-Aware and Resilient Infrastructure System
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
DOE Award Amount: $4.4 million
Awardee Cost Share: $4.8 million
Project Summary: The University of Utah will invent an automated resilience management system that will use distributed solar photovoltaics, distributed energy resources, sensors, and distribution monitoring and switching equipment to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure and emergency centers. The system will include a cyber detection and outage management tool. PacificCorp is partnering with the university in order to validate the system.

Learn more about SETO’s other funding programs.