Federal programs, institutions, and the private sector are increasing microgrid development and deployment. The number of successfully deployed microgrids will verify benefits and decrease implementation risks further expanding the market for microgrids.

The Office of Electricity (OE) has a comprehensive portfolio of activities that focuses on the development and implementation of microgrids to further improve reliability and resiliency of the grid, help communities better prepare for future weather events, and keep the nation moving toward a cleaner energy future.

Microgrid research and development (R&D) goals to advance foundational science and technology were defined jointly with stakeholder groups during two workshops held in 2011 and 2012. OE’s microgrid program goals are to develop commercial scale microgrid systems (capacity of less than 10 MW) capable of reducing outage time of required loads by more than 98% at a cost comparable to non-integrated baseline solutions while reducing emissions by more than 20% and improving system energy efficiencies by more than 20% by 2020.

  • Key R&D activities undertaken by the Department’s National Laboratories are in two focus areas:
    • Planning and design, addressing system architecture, monitoring and analysis, and system design; and
    • Operations and control, addressing steady-state control and coordination, transient-state control and protection, and operational optimization.
  • The Distributed Energy Resources Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM) is an economic and environmental model that has been in development at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) since 2000. The model’s objective is to minimize the cost of operating on-site generation and combined heat and power systems. Using state-of-the-art optimization techniques, DER-CAM assesses distributed energy resources and loads in microgrids, finding the optimal combination of generation and storage equipment to minimize energy costs and/or CO2 emissions at a given site, while also considering strategies such as load-shifting and demand-response. DER-CAM can also be used for dispatching DER, on day-ahead to week-ahead schedules, based on load and weather forecasting. Its strength derives from the flexibility to optimize over a wide range of parameters, from net-zero energy requirements to financial incentives and subsidies for specific technologies to local utility tariffs. The goal is to broaden its use for the development of resilient microgrids that reduce energy costs and CO2 emissions during normal operations, as well as maintaining power delivery during extended outages over a range of potential grid events with durations as brief as a few minutes or as long as several days or weeks. For more information, visit the LBNL Microgrids News and Events website.
  • The Microgrid Design Toolkit (MDT), which was developed by Sandia National Laboratories, is a decision support software tool for microgrid designers intended for use in early stages of the design process. The tool applies powerful search algorithms to identify and characterize alternative microgrid design decisions in terms of user-defined objectives such as cost, performance, and reliability. Using the MDT, a designer can effectively search through large design spaces for efficient alternatives; investigate the simultaneous impacts of several design decisions; derive defensible, quantitative evidence for decisions; gain a quantitative understanding of the tradeoff relationships between design objectives; and gain a quantitative understanding of the trade-offs associated with alternate technology choices. The MDT and its underlying technologies have been used for many projects and agencies, including the Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration and Energy Reliability and Security project, the City of Hoboken, the New Jersey backup power system, the US Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office, and many resilience analyses for communities around the U.S.
  • Industry partnerships for commercial viability and to meet community-defined resiliency objectives. A funding opportunity announcement (FOA No. DE-FOA-0000997) awarded more than $8 million in September 2014 to develop and test microgrid system designs with advanced controllers for technical feasibility and economic performance in meeting the Energy Department’s program targets and the resiliency objectives of the communities.
  • The Energy Surety Microgrid™ (ESM) design methodology directly links energy surety (safety, security, reliability, sustainability, and cost effectiveness) with critical power needs. It does this by integrating distributed energy resources (DERs) such as backup generators, local PV systems, small wind turbines, and electrical energy storage into a local electrical distribution service area (microgrid).  This decentralized approach allows DERs to be managed intelligently, efficiently, and reliably. The ESM process focuses on energy reliability for critical missions and immediately-deployable technologies, and cybersecurity for the control systems.
  • State and regional partnerships to support communities in microgrid planning, design, and deployment for energy assurance. The partnerships are aimed toward helping communities become more adaptive and better prepared for power outages caused by severe weather and other events.
    • In June 2013, the Energy Department announced partnering with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, City of Hoboken, and Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) to help assess and develop strategies for improving the reliability and resiliency of the local electric grid in Hoboken. The collaboration is helping Hoboken in its efforts to rebuild and upgrade its electricity infrastructure by delivering a strategic design that identifies priority energy needs and energy system functions for various outage durations, evaluates potential system improvements, and estimates cost.
    • In August 2013, the Energy Department announced partnering with the State of New Jersey, NJ Transit, and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to assess NJ Transit’s energy needs and help develop a conceptual design of an advanced microgrid system. Under this partnership, the Department’s Sandia National Laboratories are assisting NJ Transit in its efforts to enhance the reliability and resiliency of electricity used for its rail and system operations.
    • Currently, OE is working with other states on incorporating microgrids into energy assurance planning and implementation.
  • The Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration and Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS) project is a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration between the Departments of Energy, Defense and Homeland Security that is focused on demonstrating a secure microgrid architecture with the ability to maintain operational surety through trusted, reliable, and resilient electric power generation and distribution on military installations. One key element of SPIDERS is standardization of the design approach, contracting, installation, security, and operation of these microgrids to support future applications. Three microgrids are being built, each with increasing capability and complexity, which will function as permanent energy systems at Department of Defense sites (Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Fort Carson, and Camp Smith). The project will promote adoption of microgrid technology for the Department of Defense through implementation of the Energy Surety Microgrid™ design process that focuses on:
    • Energy reliability for critical missions;
    • High readiness and immediately deployable technologies; and
    • Cybersecurity for the control systems



DC Microgrids Scoping Study: Estimate of Technical and Economic Benefits, March 2015
The Advanced Microgrid: Integration and Interoperability, March 2014
Resilient Electric Distribution Grid R&D Workshop
2014 Smart Grid Peer Review
Summary Report: 2012 DOE Microgrid Workshop, July 2012
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Microgrid Initiative
DOE Microgrid Workshop Report, August 2011
Why Two Grids Can Be Better Than One


How Microgrids Work
Microgrids at Berkeley Lab
Sandia National Laboratories Energy Surety Microgrid™