Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability

OE Announces Investment in New Research to Improve Grid Reliability and Resilience through the Expanded Use of Distributed Energy Resources

June 13, 2017

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The United States at night. | Photo courtesy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The United States at night. | Photo courtesy of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

I am pleased to announce that, as part of the Energy Department’s commitment to a reliable and resilient power grid, the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability is investing nearly $10 million in early stage research intended to help utilities make more informed decisions about – and expand the deployment of – distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar photovoltaics, combustion engines, and energy storage systems onto the grid.

This funding will empower research organizations and academic institutions in California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, and Washington State to develop new technologies and strategies needed for operations and planning associated with the deployment of DERs.  DERs are becoming an increasingly important part of America’s energy mix, and improved sensing and monitoring and modeling will be critical to integrating them into the grid.

This investment is part of the Energy Department’s Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI), a comprehensive effort to help shape the future of our nation’s grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources with energy storage and smart buildings, while ensuring that the grid is resilient and secure to withstand growing challenges such as the cybersecurity threat.

The integration of distributed energy resources such as solar photovoltaics, combustion engines, and energy storage systems (DERs) offers important benefits, including energy and economic savings, reduced system losses, improved resilience and power quality, and greater customer participation. The existing grid, however, was not designed to coordinate and safely manage large numbers of DERs.  Traditional utility data acquisition and monitoring systems are ill-equipped to gain real-time visibility of DERs because these systems typically do not extend beyond substations, are unable to acquire measurements on DER performance, and were not designed to handle real-time processing of large volumes of data.  Thus, improved sensing, monitoring, and modeling are vital.

The seven projects selected for awards are outlined below. Final award amounts are subject to negotiation. The first group of projects will focus on developing low-cost, easily installed, reliable, low-maintenance sensors that consume little power. The sensors must provide a variety of measurements for enhanced monitoring and control of DERs, support many commonly used data and communication protocols, and accommodate multiple utility functions. The second group of projects will develop advanced modeling, data analytic, visualization, and computational approaches. Models complement sensor measurements by turning the data into actionable information, providing operational context, and serving as a platform for assessing control options.

 

Sensors

Recipient: Palo Alto Research Center

Project Title:  TRANSENSOR: Transformer Real-time Assessment INtelligent System with Embedded Network of Sensors and Optical Readout

Project Partners:  Consolidated Edison Co. of New York; General Electric Grid Solutions

Location:  Palo Alto, CA                   

Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) will develop, prototype, and demonstrate TRANSENSOR, an innovative, low-cost optically-based monitoring system that will increase the capacity of grid infrastructure to accommodate accelerating the integration of DER.

DOE Funds:                 $1,499,956
Cost Share:                  $621,215
Total Project Value:     $2,121,171

 

Recipient: Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Project Title:  Sensing Electrical Networks Securely and Economically (SENSE)

Project Partners:  Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Southern Company

Location:  Atlanta, GA                   

Georgia Tech Research Corp. will develop and demonstrate a low-cost sensor network for monitoring the health of distribution transformers.  The sensors will be capable of measuring voltage, current and temperature.  This technology will be able to be used with capacitor banks, reclosers and fuses. 

DOE Funds:                 $1,415,718
Cost Share:                  $457,694
Total Project Value:     $1,872,872

 

Recipient: Commonwealth Edison Company

Project Title:  Sensors with Intelligent Measurement Platform and Low-cost Equipment (SIMPLE™) for Monitoring and Control of Medium Voltage Distribution Systems with High Penetration of Intermittent Distributed Energy Resources

Project Partners:  Quanta Technology; University of Denver; San Diego Gas & Electric

Location:  Chicago, Illinois                   

COMED will develop voltage/current sensors with enhanced accuracy, bandwidth and harmonic range and high measurement granularity for medium voltage distribution system monitoring, protection and controls. This technology will be well suited for applications such as voltage sensing and regulation, frequency support, fault detection and location, distribution system state estimation, and electrical distribution network topology processing.

DOE Funds:                 $1,500,000
Cost Share:                  $750,000
Total Project Value:     $2,250,000

 

Recipient: The University of Texas at Austin

Project Title:  Advanced Intelligent Sensor Development and Demonstration for Future Distribution Systems with High Penetration DERs

Project Partners:  Argonne National Laboratory; Verivolt; National Instruments; Pedernales Electric Cooperative

Location:  Austin, Texas                   

The University of Texas at Austin will leverage existing and emerging sensor measurements to enhance data-driven observability and develop robust estimation and identification techniques to enable real-time grid-wise monitoring and modeling of loads and distributed energy resources (DERs).

DOE Funds:                 $1,465,584
Cost Share:                  $635,116
Total Project Value:     $2,100,700

 

Advanced Grid Modeling

Recipient: Iowa State University of Science & Technology

Project Title:  Robust Real-Time Modeling of Distribution Systems with Data-Driven Grid-Wise Observability

Project Partners:  Argonne National Laboratory; Electric Power Research Center; SIEMENS Industry; Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative; Alliant Energy; Cedar Falls Utilities

Location:  Ames, Iowa                   

Iowa State University of Science & Technology will leverage existing and emerging sensor measurements to enhance data-driven observability and develop robust state estimation and parameter identification techniques to enable real-time grid-wise monitoring and modeling of loads and distributed energy resources (DERs).  The developed models will be validated using practical MicroPMU, SCADA, and smart meter data provided by utility partners, and integrated with PSS®SINCAL. The project will produce a holistic framework with: data-driven and machine learning-based grid-edge visibility enhancement; robust branch-current-based state estimation (BCSE); and robust real-time steady-state and dynamic-state modeling of loads and DERs using streaming data.

DOE Funds:                 $1,410,696
Cost Share:                  $353,307
Total Project Value:     $1,764,003

 

Recipient: Iowa State University of Science & Technology

Project Title:  Sensor Enabled Data Driven Predictive Analytics for Modeling and Control with High Penetration of DERs in Distribution Systems 

Project Partners:  National Renewable Energy Laboratory; Commonwealth Edison Company; Alliant Energy; Siemens; PJM

Location:  Ames, Iowa                   

Iowa State University of Science & Technology Iowa State University of Science & Technology will use the large volume and variety of sensor data available from the distribution networks of their partner utilities to develop effective reduced order system models that will provide useful insights into the distribution system and help transition from data to decision.  The data-driven reduced order system modeling and parameter estimation will explicitly account for the dynamic nature of power systems. The resulting advanced models will be of higher fidelity and address the reliability and control challenges that arise in the integration of intermittent and variable DERs, even at penetration levels of more than 50% of the feeder peak load.

DOE Funds:                  $1,200,000
Cost Share:                   $300,000
Total Project Value:     $1,500,000

 

Recipient: Washington State University

Project Title:  AGGREGATE: Data-driven Modeling Preserving Controllable DER for Outage Management and Resiliency

Project Partners:  Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Argonne National Laboratory; Seattle City Light; GE Grid Solutions; Commonwealth Edison

Location:  Pullman, Washington                   

Washington State University will develop innovative data-driven models for loads and DERs using dominant parameter methods, while including variability. A decentralized approach to a real-time distribution model will be updated using distributed computing and edge-analytics to improve the observability of the distribution system. Composite load models for a combination of static, dynamic (induction motors), and aggregated DERs will be integrated with a reduced order quasi-static transmission-distribution model while preserving controllable DERs.

DOE Funds:                 $1,500,000
Cost Share:                  $791,418
Total Project Value:     $2,291,418