On April 7-8, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) held a virtual workshop with stakeholders to discuss how solar and other distributed energy resources (DERs) can help build resilient communities. The workshop featured speakers and panelists from DOE, National Laboratories, industry, academia, and non-profits describing research and demonstration projects to increase electric grid resilience, in addition to guided breakout discussions with the following stakeholders:

  • Local government and community leaders
  • Utilities
  • Regulators
  • Market innovators
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • DER developers
  • Resilient system designers

The objectives of this event were to present the findings from the latest resilience research projects and to receive stakeholder feedback to help SETO plan future research. Over the two-day workshop, multiple breakout sessions focused on energy resilience on the following topics: 1) valuation, 2) planning & coordination, and 3) equity & environmental justice.

The workshop participants provided their comments on the following key points:

Day 1: Valuing Resilience

  • DOE’s Grid Modernization Lab Consortium (GMLC) research on resilience metrics and valuation methods.
  • Dependence of critical loads and infrastructure (e. g., water, transportation, medical) on the electric system.
  • Examples from entities who successfully incorporated resilience concepts into their decision-making.
  • The role of market innovation in valuing resilience.
  • Knowledge barriers and data gaps (e. g., mechanisms for resilience, uncertainties in climate, terminology for valuation)

Day 2: Planning & Coordination

  • Anticipating internal/external challenges when planning, coordinating, and implementing resilience measures
  • Engaging stakeholders in resilience planning and coordination
  • DOE’s role in stakeholder education and technical assistance on energy resilience. Collaboration with state and local governments to identify key research areas in electric grid resilience. Collaboration with utilities and other stakeholders on technology gaps.
  • Environmental justice in the context of energy resilience and its incorporation in planning and decision-making.

The workshop provided the following major takeaways:

Key Area Major Takeaways
Infrastructure
  • Regional diversity (e.g. topography, electrical topology, infrastructure, other) and geographic location play a critical role in stakeholders’ responses to physical and extreme weather events. 
  • Increased electrification of other sectors (e.g., transportation) raises challenges and opportunities for resilience.
  • Aging assets and interoperability with renewable technology will require further investment and optimization of electric infrastructure to accommodate deployment of solar technologies.
  • Codes and standards need to be updated or developed to enable energy resilience.
Metrics
  • Additional research and demonstration projects are needed to establish metrics, drive investment in energy resilience, and ensure equity.
  • Better understanding of the relationship between resilience and reliability can inform resilience metrics.
  • User tools are needed to calculate disruption costs, identify cost-effective resilience opportunities, and assist in local and nation-wide evaluations of disaster preparedness and restoration.
Cost
  • Infrastructure investments are needed to support the deployment of solar and storage technologies for resilience.
  • A methodology or methodologies for determining cost allocation for investments in renewable technologies for community resilience is needed.
Planning and Coordination
  • Stakeholder engagement and coordination is needed throughout the process, from resilience planning to service restoration.
  • Resources are needed to:
    • Carry out workforce training on new technologies,
    • Conduct pilot and demonstration projects, and
    • Disseminate DOE resilience research findings and solutions.
  • Expand energy resilience planning to include climate change impact data and non-traditional stakeholder involvement, such as representatives from minority serving institutions, insurance companies, and climate and social science research centers.
  • Planning for and implementing energy resilience are at an early stage across the U.S.

 

The electric system is threatened by extreme weather and other physical events. These extreme events are expected to increase in frequency and strength due to climate change. The distributed nature of solar plus storage can increase resilience and assist in faster restoration efforts by generating electricity locally, near the customers, and avoiding the need for fuel deliveries. There are technical and non-technical challenges to achieving a resilient energy system and integration of solar technologies that cannot be addressed in isolation. Effective engagement of multiple stakeholder groups is key for successful resilient electric system design, technology deployment, and shared benefits within and among communities.

For questions or additional information, please contact solar@ee.doe.gov. Below, you can find speaker bios, slides, and presentation topics from the workshop. 

April 7, 2021: Day 1 - Defining and Valuing Resilience

Introduction and Keynote

Workshop Introduction - Day 1 

Day 1 of the workshop started with a brief introduction to the workshop's objectives by Shay Banton, a technology manager for the Systems Integration team. This presentation was focused on setting the stage for the workshop by defining the bounds of the resilience conversations and providing context to the importance of resilience in terms of the increasing frequency of climate disasters. 

Headshot of Becca Jones-Albertus

 

Solar Energy Technologies Office Overview

Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus | SETO | Director 

Dr. Jones-Albertus is involved in cross-cutting issues across the DOE such as grid modernization, systems integration, and workforce training.  Becca gave our attendees a short overview of SETO's previous work on resilience and how these programs fit into larger DOE initiatives such as the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC). 

Michele Boyd Headshot

 

SETO's Soft Cost Resilience Work

Michele Boyd | SETO | Program Manager

Michele Boyd is the Program Manager of the Strategic Analysis and Institutional Support (SAIS) team at SETO, which focuses on the development of analysis, tools, and data resources to reduce the non-hardware (soft-costs) of solar energy.  Michele provided an overview of the two major resilience initiatives managed by her office; Solar Market Pathways and Solar Energy Innovation Network. 

 

Stephen Walls Headshot

 

Keynote: Advanced Grid R&D, Office of Electricity

Stephen Walls | DOE Office of Electricity (OE) | Program Lead 

Stephen Walls has been with the DOE since 2011 where he helped create the OE Energy Transitions Initiative (ETI), which focuses on improving the energy security of island and remote grids of the United States.  Stephen walked attendees through the ETI and OE's efforts in defining, valuing, and planning for resilience.  Stephen brought attention to the OE's new team dedicated to resilience, the Energy Resilience Division; highlights from the most recent IEEE Resilience Report (Oct. 2020); and a brief summary of the NAERM software toolbox which applies a modular and adaptable approach to resilience scenario planning.   

Valuing Resilience Panel

Our first panel focused on the various metrics and perspectives we can use to better evaluate, understand, and ultimately value resilience.  

Michael Kintner-Meyer Headshot

 

Towards Metrics for Resilience Characterization and Challenges in Valuing Distribution System Resilience Improvements

Dr. Michael Kintner-Meyer | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) | Research Engineer 

Dr. Kintner-Meyer has more than 25 years in the area of energy/economy and multi-sector simulation and analysis for national and international clients. He is currently leading the mobility and electrification of transportation research area as well as PNNL’s energy policy research and institutional support for the DOE Grid Modernization Initiative.  Dr. Kintner-Meyer helped us define the various metrics used to quantify the economic aspects of resilience at various levels and how they fit into thGMLC Foundational Metrics Analysis project.  

Bobby Jeffers Headshot

 

Perspectives on Equitable Energy Resilience

Dr. Bobby Jeffers | Sandia National Laboratories | Principal Systems Scientist 

Dr. Jeffers is trained in systems thinking and power engineering and specializes in cross-cutting research regarding the interplay between energy systems, society, and the environment.  Dr. Jeffers’ presentation focused on how local governments and communities value the social aspects of resilience and talked about various resilience-related projects such as "Designing Resilient Communities: A Consequence-Based Approach for Grid Investment".

Kiera Zitelman Headshot

 

Valuing Resilience: A State Regulatory Perspective

Kiera Zitelman | National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)| Senior Manager 

Kiera Zitelman joined the NARUC team in 2016. She manages multiple federal cooperative agreements with the DOE and National Labs on carbon capture and coal-fired power, nuclear energy, natural gas, microgrids, and electricity policy to provide technical assistance and analytical support to state public utility commissions. She is responsible for conceptualizing and producing resources to position state commissions to tackle emerging challenges. Kiera presented on how regulators are working to define and incentivize resilience as well as the SETO-funded Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) project “Solar PV for Advanced System Resilience and Restoration”.   

Wilson Rickerson Headshot

 

Turning Resilience Metrics into Resilience

Wilson Rickerson | Converge Strategies | Principal 

Wilson Rickerson is an experienced entrepreneur with a successful 15-year track record of building and managing consulting firms and non-profit organizations focusing on energy and resilience. Wilson has deep experience in the energy industry and has advised governments in 25 countries – from Saudi Arabia to Trinidad and Tobago – on new energy and resilience. Wilson presented on how utilities and their emergency planners are valuing resilience expanding on the work his company and NARUC have performed in resilience.   

Presentation Series

Headshot of Michelle Moore

 

Resilience: Reparative, Restorative - Equitable Approaches to Project Development

Michelle Moore | Groundswell | Chief Executive Officer 

Groundswell is dedicated to building community power through community solar projects that share power, savings, and economic opportunity. A social entrepreneur and former White House official with roots in rural Georgia, Michelle is a relentless agent for change with a passion for connecting clean energy with economic growth. Her accomplishments range from building the global green building movement as a senior executive with USGBC to leading the sustainability team for the Obama Administration. Since joining Groundswell in 2015, Michelle has led the organization to deploy a market-based model for equitable community solar that shares power, savings, and opportunity with local families regardless of household income or credit scores. She presented on the timely topic of equity and how it should be placed at the center of our resilience conversations, planning, and coordination efforts.   

Fei Ding Headshot

 

Grid-Edge Energy Resources to Shape Resilient Community Microgrids

Dr. Fei Ding | National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)| Senior Research Engineer 

Dr. Ding’s research interests include renewable energy grid integration, distributed energy resources aggregation and controls, grid resilience and security. She is leading multiple projects at NREL on developing advanced models and controls for managing grid-edge resources to enhance grid flexibility, reliability and resilience, and developing new Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) and Distributed Energy Resource Managements Systems (DERMS) applications to modernize emerging distribution grids. Dr. Ding presented on the technical barriers to implementing microgrids, a technology that could use DERs to enable a local resilience solutions for communities. 

April 8, 2021: Day 2 - Planning and Working Together Towards Resilience

Introduction and Keynote

Workshop Introduction - Day 2

Day 2 of the workshop started with a brief introduction to the workshop's objectives by David Walter, a technology manager for the Systems Integration team.

Erika Gupta Headshot

 

Keynote: Resilience in Buildings

Erika Gupta | DOE Building Technologies Office (BTO) | Emerging Technologies Program Manager 

Erika Gupta is the acting program manager for the Emerging Technologies Program (ETP) and the technology manager for the Sensors and Controls Subprogram in BTO. Her work leverages her controls background, focusing on building energy management controls and projects supporting controls for grid-integrated efficient buildings.  Erika presented on how BTO defines resilience, the future role solar will play in grid-interactive efficient buildings, and stressed the importance of ensuring resilience solutions are crafted for everyone, especially those in disadvantaged communities who are disproportionally impacted by natural disasters. 

Planning and Coordination Panel

Our second panel focused on how different entities are pursing planning and coordination for resilience in a variety of system architectures.  From urban environments to locally sourced microgrids, our panelists took a deep dive into what inputs are required and what barriers still exist in comprehensive resilience planning. 

Alison Holm Headshot

 

Resilience Planning in the Solar Energy Innovation Network

Alison Holm | NREL | Project Leader, Urban and Regional Planning (URP)

Alison Holm leads a variety of energy and resilience planning efforts and works primarily with federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments to integrate research and analysis into energy decision-making processes. Alison’s research areas include state and local energy policy and financing strategies; integrating energy and resilience considerations into local planning, zoning, and permitting practices; and incorporating data and analysis into energy and resilience planning at different scales.  Alison provided an overview of the Clear Sky Tampa Bay SEIN project which has an emphasis on resilience planning for urban environments.  

Arindam Maitra Headshot

 

Solar Critical Infrastructure Energization (SOLACE) System

Dr. Arindam Maitra | Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) | Senior Technical Executive 

Dr. Maitra has been responsible for leading and managing activities related to the power system infrastructure for plug-in hybrid vehicles, microgrids, and integrating distributed energy resources with distribution management systems at EPRI. Dr. Maitra provided an overview of the DOE-funded SOLACE project focused on pre-planning for resilience events, what it takes to create substantive resilience event scenarios, and what the role of Grid-Forming Inverters are in this space.  

Badrul Chowdhury Headshot

 

Resilient Community Microgrids with Dynamic Reconfiguration to Serve Critical Loads in the Aftermath of Severe Events

Dr. Badrul Chowdhury | University North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC) | Distinguished Professor 

Dr. Chowdhury is a principal investigator for the “Resilient Community Microgrids with Dynamic Reconfiguration to Serve Critical Loads in the Aftermath of Severe Events” project. Dr. Chowdhury provided an overview of this project with an emphasis on developing advanced microgrid control architecture that coordinates with the bulk power system.