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The Office of Electricity's (OE) Advanced Grid Research and Development (AGR&D) Division invests in the development of next-generation technologies and tools that improve the security and resilience of the nation’s critical energy infrastructure.

The Transformer Resilience and Advanced Components (TRAC) program within AGR&D aims to accelerate grid modernization by addressing challenges associated with large power transformers, critical components, and other grid hardware technologies. TRAC activities advance technologies and approaches that maximize the utility of existing grid components and enable the next generation of grid hardware to be more flexible, reliable, and cost-effective. The activities leverage innovative designs with power electronics, new materials, and embedded sensors and intelligence.

The TRAC program is a critical piece of OE’s R&D portfolio and complements other programs to support OE priorities. While grid-scale energy storage technologies are rapidly maturing, they still connect to the grid through transformers and other grid hardware components. Advances enabled by TRAC program activities will facilitate the integration of energy storage and other new technologies. Additionally, more flexible and adaptable designs can enhance the grid’s ability to respond and recover from disruptions, bolstering the resilience of defense critical energy infrastructure. The program began in FY 2016 and research projects in several focus areas built out a robust and diverse portfolio necessary to address the program objectives.

In late summer 2019, the TRAC program conducted its first program review at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Hardin Valley Campus in Knoxville, TN. Dr. Kerry Cheung, TRAC program manager, planned and executed the program review which included nearly 90 participants, including representatives from utilities, equipment vendors, consultancies, academia, national laboratories, and government. The review included 24 project presentations within the TRAC portfolio. For each presentation, a panel of 10 formal peer reviewers evaluated the projects and provided feedback. Additionally, all attendees were given the opportunity to provide feedback on the research program through live voting, polling exercises, and follow-up surveys.

Program reviews, such as this TRAC program review, have the added benefit of providing stakeholders the opportunity to learn about the status and future directions of a research program, and it gives them a chance to exchange ideas and build connections. Additionally, the forum facilitates advancement and adoption of innovative technology solutions, especially grid hardware.

Summary materials for the program review, including presentations, fact sheets, and a summary report can be found on the TRAC program review page of the OE website. The summary report presents the feedback received from attendees, including summaries of the research project peer evaluations and the program-level feedback. The report also details the TRAC program review process.

Lasting and effective improvements to the security and resilience of the nation’s critical energy infrastructure require a diverse and engaged community, and the TRAC program aims to continue to catalyze collaboration within this community.