Natural disasters and physical or cyber-attacks threaten the grid’s ability to provide power. In some cases, power outages inconvenience customers, in other cases, it cuts people off from critical services that impact their health and well-being. New grid systems, microgrids for example, provide a solution via localized grids that can operate autonomously, whether disconnected from the traditional grid or support remote/isolated communities. The Office of Electricity (OE) supports critical grid system research to strengthen grid resilience, help mitigate grid disturbances, and integrate renewable energy and distributed energy resources to accelerate our evolution into a more flexible, socially equitable, and secure grid of the future.    

Graphic of single an network microgrids

Microgrid R&D (MGRD) Activities 

Microgrids can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously and locally. Microgrids can strengthen grid resilience and help mitigate grid disturbances with their ability to operate while the main grid is down and function as a grid resource for faster system response and recovery.  

Microgrids support a flexible and efficient electric grid by adapting to integrating growing deployments of renewables such as solar farms and electric vehicles. In addition, using local sources of energy to serve local loads helps reduce energy losses in transmission and distribution, further increasing efficiency of the electric delivery system. 

By 2035, we aim for microgrids to represent essential building blocks of the future electricity delivery system to support resilience, decarbonization, and affordability. OE will focus on developing and validating tools, methods, and technologies in each of the following strategic R&D areas to make this a possibility: 

  • Reduce time and cost needed for microgrid deployment 
  • Establish microgrids as a building block for future grids to enable monitoring, controlling, and optimizing large-scale grids of the future 
  • Advance microgrid control and protection to adapt to changing grid conditions and protecting the system and its customers 
  • Integrate models and tools for microgrid planning, designs, and operations to combine new and existing capabilities to meet performance metrics and requirements.  
  • Transmission & distribution co-simulation of microgrid impacts and benefits to identify/validate the value of microgrids.  
  • Enable regulatory and business models for broad microgrid deployment to identify the regulatory frameworks that enable microgrid investment from the private sector, regulated utilities, communities, and states. 

Learn more about the MGRD Portfolio of Activities

Microgrid Program Strategy 

The DOE Microgrid Program Strategy started in December 2020 to define strategic research and development areas for OE to support its vision and accomplish its goals. The strategy development process began with microgrid experts deliberating on areas the strategy should focus on for impactful results in key metrics, such as reliability, resilience, decarbonization, and affordability, in the next 5 to 10 years. 

These deliberations led to developing seven strategic white papers, one for each of the six strategic R&D areas identified and one additional white paper on the overarching program vision, objectives, and targets.  

Learn more about the Microgrid Program Strategy.