What is Grid Engineering and Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Integration Training?
Grid engineering involves the design, development, testing, and maintenance of electric grid infrastructure. As large amounts of solar energy and other DERs are added to the grid, it is essential to identify the associated technical, economic, and regulatory challenges to their integration and develop solutions that ensure compatibility and a smooth transition to a secure, reliable, and resilient power grid.
Grid engineering and DER integration training focuses on how to incorporate solar and other DERs into the electric distribution and transmission system in order to:
- reduce carbon emissions and emissions of other air pollutants;
- control electricity costs and minimize strain on the grid during peak demand periods using DERs, demand response, and energy efficiency measures;
- support achievement of renewable portfolio standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency;
- enhance reliability, security, and resiliency by developing microgrids to protect critical infrastructure and highly constrained areas of the electric grid; and
- support reductions in oil use by enabling plug-in electric vehicles.
Why is Grid Engineering and DER Integration Training important?
Traditional grid architecture is based on large-scale, centralized power generation facilities that deliver energy to consumers in distant locations, rather than localized and distributed renewable energy resource generation and storage. To enable a modern grid that is reliable, resilient, and secure, it must have the ability to:
- optimize grid operations;
- rapidly detect and mitigate grid disturbances that can lead to power outages;
- integrate diverse generation sources;
- engage billions of intelligent devices such as smart phones, tablets, and smart appliances
- integrate demand response and energy efficiency resources;
- enable customers to manage their electricity use and participate in markets; and
- provide strong protection against physical and cyber risks.
The people who will enable this modern grid—power systems engineers—are in short supply. Training is needed for the next generation of power systems engineers who will drive innovations in grid operations, and for existing power systems engineers who need updated training as they encounter a rapidly changing electric generation portfolio. Power systems engineers need to be able to collect, transmit, store, secure, analyze, interpret, and make intelligent decisions from a wide range of data resources.
SETO Research in Grid Engineering and DER Integration Training
SETO has funded, and continues to fund, several high-impact programs to train the next generation of power systems engineers, including:
- EPRI Grid Ready Energy Analytics Training with Data (GREAT with Data) Project – this program enhances workforce readiness in the electric utility industry by focusing on the intersection of power systems and digital systems.
- EPRI Grid Engineers for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) – this program grew the expertise and preparedness of utility sector professionals to operate our country’s electric grid with large amounts of solar electricity and other distributed resources.
- SunSpec Alliance Cyberguardians and STEM Warriors Project – this project created an accredited online training program in digital distributed energy resource (DER) technologies and cybersecurity for military veterans and industry professionals.
- Solar District Cup – this annual competition challenges multidisciplinary student teams to design and model optimized distributed energy systems for a campus or urban district.
- Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship – this program funds recent graduates and energy professionals to work with critical energy organizations like public utility commissions and grid operators to advance clean energy solutions.
- EPRI Center for Grid Engineering Education (GridEd) leverages electric industry research to educate a future electric grid workforce. Education opportunities are available for K-12 students, undergraduate and graduate students, and practicing engineers seeking to understand and develop skills to address the evolving energy system.