The Office of Electricity (OE) leads the Department’s efforts to ensure the nation’s critical energy infrastructure is secure and able to recover rapidly from disruptions. Below are some of OE’s recent accomplishments. To learn more about how OE is harnessing innovation for a stronger, more reliable North American energy system and a path forward to energy independence, visit the OE website’s blog and News section.
Office of Electricity Key 2022 Accomplishments
TRANSFORMER RESILIENCE AND ADVANCED COMPONENTS (TRAC) PEER REVIEW
The 2022 TRAC Peer Review was held virtually February 1-3, 2022. The TRAC program researchers presented information on their projects that accelerate the next generation of grid hardware and domestic standing by leveraging new materials, new designs, and new embedded intelligence to enhance equipment performance, lifetime, reliability, and resilience.
SUPPLY CHAIN ASSESSMENT OF GRID ENERGY STORAGE AND ELECTRIC GRID COMPONENTS
On February 24, 2022, DOE released America’s Strategy to Secure the Supply Chain for a Robust Clean Energy Transition, supported by 13 deep-dive supply chain assessments across the energy sector, ranging from solar energy to semiconductors to cybersecurity. OE contributed two reports focused on grid storage and electric grid supply chains to this effort.
ENERGY STORAGE FOR SOCIAL EQUITY
In March 2022, the Energy Storage for Social Equity (ES4SE) announced selection of 14 underserved urban, rural, and tribal communities to receive technical assistance from OE researchers at PNNL. Some 600 sessions have been held with individual communities to assess their energy needs and determine potential role of energy storage in their communities. In Phase 2 of the program, a minimum of five communities will receive assistance with procuring and installing energy storage systems with support of OE researchers at Sandia National Laboratories.
STRATEGICALLY UNDERGROUNDING POWERLINES WEBINAR
On March 22, 2022, OE explored how strategic undergrounding of powerlines can make the grid more resilient by minimizing damages from hazards and threats such as extreme weather events and wildfires. This virtual event highlighted how to evaluate the cost versus the value of undergrounding powerlines to help target this solution to the areas where it’s feasible. Virtual attendees heard from utilities that have implemented this strategy and the challenges they had to overcome. Additionally state and local regulators discussed their approach to assess undergrounding projects in their respective jurisdictions. Several case studies illustrate the cost and maintenance benefits of placing powerlines underground (e.g. undergrounding).
DYNAMIC LOAD MODELING
OE hosted a dynamic load modeling workshop to review current related projects on March 24, 2022. The workshop highlighted the need to develop standards or for ensuring future loads will be “grid friendly,” and discussed the need to continue the conversation across system planners, researchers, and government stakeholders. OE’s Transmission Reliability and Resilience program plays a role in developing modeling tools, including dynamic load modeling methods, to help accelerate innovation.
CENTER FOR ALTERNATE SYNCHRONIZATION AND TIMING (CAST)
In March 2022, OE partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to lead an effort to establish CAST, primarily created to decrease the vulnerabilities of Global Positioning System (GPS) signals by deploying a terrestrial based wide area signal system that provides alternative precision timing services for the nation’s power grid. In addition to providing new sources of robust timing data, the CAST system resists open-air or wireless jamming and spoofing attacks because it does not rely on weak, space-based GPS signals.
ENABLING ENERGY STORAGE SAFETY
In FY22, OE supported staff at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) who conducted safety training workshops for 12 utilities and their first responders covering technology hazards, system design and hazard mitigation, and first responders’ approach to fires. PNNL also provided safety workshops for National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) for new storage system deployments. Storage Program continues R&D in mitigation of thermal runaway, fire suppression technologies and advanced safety controls.
BIG DATA SYNCHROPHASOR ANALYSIS
On April 17, 2022, the findings from eight research projects funded by OE on “Big Data Synchrophasor Analysis” were released – these projects advanced data analysis for large streaming datasets and resulted in new electric grid operator tools to improve transmission reliability. Findings presented to industry at the North American SynchroPhasor Initiative (NASPI) meetings are available on the OE website.
GRID-ENHANCING TECHNOLOGIES (GETS)
On April 20, 2022, OE released Grid-Enhancing Technologies: A Case Study on Ratepayer Impact, a report focused on the impacts of integrating GETs onto existing transmission lines. The report establishes an assessment methodology and outlines key findings from a case study that evaluates a near-future scenario (2025) in the New York Independent System Operator service area to understand how GETs could impact the region.
GRID STORAGE LAUNCHPAD (GSL)
On April 21, 2022, OE and PNNL broke ground on a $75 million facility that will boost clean energy adoption and make the nation’s power grid more resilient, secure, and flexible. At the GSL, scientists will validate and test new grid storage technologies—from basic materials and components to prototype devices—under realistic operating conditions. It will promote rigorous grid performance requirements for all stages of technology development and accelerate the development of innovative technologies. The building is expected to be ready for occupancy and start of operations in 2024.
VEHICLE-TO-EVERYTHING MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU)
On April 21, 2022, OE along with other DOE and industry officials signed the Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) MOU. This MOU brings together cutting-edge resources from DOE, National Labs, state and local government, utilities, and private entities to evaluate technical and economic feasibility as we integrate bidirectional charging into energy infrastructure. The MOU will also advance cybersecurity as a core component of V2X charging infrastructure.
LONG DURATION ENERGY STORAGE DEMONSTRATIONS STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
On May 12, 2022, OE, the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) released the Request for Information (RFI) on the Long Duration Energy Storage for Everyone, Everywhere (LD ESEE) Initiative. This RFI sought input on the $505 million Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) program on long-duration energy storage demonstrations, as well as on the $20 million from OE for “large scale commercial development and deployment of long cycle life, lithium-grid scale batteries and their components.” The LD ESEE RFI closed on June 16, 2022, and stakeholder listening sessions were subsequently held by OE and OCED in July and August 2022. These sessions solicited input from four groups: (1) industry, (2) state, local, and tribal governments, (3) workforce development stakeholders, and (4) Equity Environmental and Energy Justice (EEEJ) stakeholders.
NEXT GENERATION GRID TECHNOLOGIES
On May 13, 2022, OE released the Next Generation Grid Technologies report, which shows how next-gen technologies can support an integrated platform that helps solve today’s challenges and facilitates the transformation to a future grid capable of integrating more solar and wind generation, and millions of electric vehicles, and distributed energy resources. The report includes a deep dive into the R&D opportunities of transformative transitions for a next-generation grid including system carrying capacity line ratings, system topology and optimization, and system equipment.
On May 12, 2022, OE released a report on the Microgrid and Integrated Systems Program which includes a new risk-based optimization and decision-making model for distribution grid expansion planning with distributed energy resources (DERs) and microgrids that explicitly optimizes grid investments when considering reliability and resilience objectives. The model has been successfully applied to validate real investments from a utility on its target feeders, with results showing that the “cost vs. risk” model can be used by distribution utilities as a quantitative tool to value DERs and microgrids and justify those investments to the regulators.
In May 2022, OE awarded a Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) cooperative agreement to Brains4Drones (Plano, TX) to apply their AI technology on drones to mitigate against wildfires. Brains4Drones, a woman-owned small business, partnered with Central Electric Coop (CEC) in Redmond, OR and Consumers Power, Inc. (CPI) in Philomath, OR. The work focuses on solutions to mitigate fires on electric distribution system in hard-to-access terrain by performing powerline, equipment, and vegetation inspections. Brains4Drones developed AI algorithms, integrated sensors for defect detection, and developed prototypes that specifically gathered and curated real-time information on potential hazards. In September 2022, CPI performed a demonstration of this capability at their service territory.
A SYSTEM IN TRANSITION: THE INFLUENCE OF NEXT GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES
On May 31, 2022, OE released the System in Transition: The Influence of Next Generation Technologies report that presents the findings and guidance from multiple conversations with regulators across the country regarding the representative technologies of advanced metering infrastructure, distribution controls, electric vehicles, data access, and governance. The report presents macrotrends and common challenges, while highlighting lessons learned and advice that participants might give to fellow regulators.
ENERGY STORAGE VALUATION: A REVIEW OF USE CASES AND MODELING TOOLS REPORT
In June 2022, OE released a report with PNNL describing ways in which energy storage can be valued in the context of important use cases that typically drive deployment and determine what cost and performance characteristics systems must be capable of. The report assesses publicly available modeling tools developed, by DOE, and provides insight into which of these tools are best suited for calculating the value for certain storage based on the technology type and the intended use case. The report also describes the functionality of the Model Selection Platform (MSP) that is a publicly available website-based tool that helps stakeholders make decisions on which DOE valuation tool would be most useful for their storage case.
ADVANCING POWER CONVERSION SYSTEMS FOR ENERGY STORAGE
OE, Sandia, and UC-Irvine staff received a 2022 R&D 100 award for the development of iron nitride (Fe4N) soft magnetic cores that enable low loss inductive switching in high frequency power converters. ORNL staff developed Hardware-in-the-loop controls for three-stage converter topologies for direct integration of energy storage systems into medium voltage distribution grids while PNNL staff have supported systems analysis impacts of invertor-based storage resources with Southern California Edison.
RAPID OPERATIONAL VALIDATION INITIATIVE (ROVI)
On August 31, 2022, OE released the $2 million ROVI Flow Battery Lab Call to address critical gaps in data needs and develop a technical roadmap to accelerate flow battery technology commercialization. This opportunity supports the overall ROVI goal to develop accelerated testing and validation (T&V) methods for new storage technologies that will yield 15+ years of investment grade performance projections with only 1 year or less of data required. Developing these ROVI capabilities are necessary to accelerate the pace of commercialization for technologies that can achieve the long duration storage shot goals and support grid decarbonization by 2035
ENERGY STORAGE GRAND CHALLENGE
On September 27-28, 2022 Energy storage stakeholders gathered for the 2nd Annual DOE Energy Storage Grand Challenge Summit (ESGC) at ANL. Attendees provided DOE with ideas on how to facilitate new connections to achieve the Energy Storage Grand Challenge and Long Duration Storage Shot goals. Participants heard an overview of major DOE activities, learned how DOE has addressed energy storage needs and barriers, and had an opportunity to provide input on additional activities DOE could undertake in the near to medium term.
STORAGE INNOVATIONS 2030 (SI 2030)
As part of the ESGC, in September 2022, OE launched SI 2030 to develop specific and quantifiable RD&D pathways to achieving the targets identified in the Long Duration Storage Energy Earthshot. Through SI 2030, DOE seeks to understand the specific innovations required to unlock the potential for long-duration applications in a variety of these technologies. To obtain community input, SI 2030 launched three components: the SI 2030 Prize, SI 2030 Flight Paths, and the SI 2030 Framework.
OFFICE OF ELECTRICITY REALIGNMENT
In October 2022, OE restructured its divisions to ensure the office successfully meets its mission to strengthen, transform, and improve the electricity system. The restructuring resulted in the establishment of the following research, development and demonstration divisions:
- Grid Systems and Components – Manages research, development, and demonstration programs aimed at modernizing the Nation’s electricity delivery system, spanning hardware components (and associated software) and integrated grid systems.
- Grid Controls and Communications –Manages research, development, and demonstration programs including secure communications, controls and protection systems. The Division is responsible for engineering end-to-end systems for communications, grid modeling, measurement and controls, and operations and planning.
- Energy Storage Division – Prepares the "next generation" of energy storage technologies to provide system reliability, resilience, and efficiency. The Division supports applied materials development; storage reliability and safety; applying modeling and analysis; and validating performance for rapid commercialization.
In October 2022, OE launched two prize initiatives as part of the American-Made Challenges program, which incentivizes innovation through prizes, training, teaming, and mentoring by connecting the nation’s entrepreneurs and innovators to America’s National Labs and the private sector.
- Digitizing Utilities Prize – The $1.1 million Digitizing Utilities Prize connects utilities with interdisciplinary teams of software developers and data experts to transform digital systems in the energy sector through data analytics, processing, quality assurance, storage, and deletion. The Digitizing Utilities Prize supports competitors as they work directly with utility partners to develop software solutions to improve how the energy industry manages, stores, and processes these large data sets.
- Energy SI 2030 Prize – This prize aims to gain insight on innovative, emerging, and next-generation energy storage technologies to inform DOE’s strategy on transformative storage technologies to accelerate grid modernization and decarbonization. The Energy SI 2030 Prize offers a total prize pool of $300,000 in cash prizes. This competition focuses only on emerging energy storage technologies.
ENERGY STORAGE PEER REVIEW
The 2022 Office of Electricity Energy Storage Program Peer Review was held October 11-13, 2022 in Albuquerque, NM. Over 230 people attended including eight delegates from NM State Legislature, NM Public Regulation Commission, and representatives from Tribal government. There were 9 review sessions.
SUPPORTING ENERGY STORAGE STAKEHOLDERS
OE and Sandia National Laboratories have entered a MOU with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to foster cooperative work on energy storage demonstrations, testing, and analysis. This expands upon existing MOU’s also with California Energy Commission (CEC) and State of Washington to support Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) and shorter duration energy storage deployments funded by these entities. During this time two social equity projects were commissioned: A 3 kW / 3.6 days solar plus storage system using rechargeable Zn Mn O2 batteries in collaboration with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority; and a 721 kW/4hr solar plus storage system for a Hispanic serving high school in Albuquerque, NM. The initiative continued in October with a highly successful DOE Energy Storage Financing Summit with added focus on financing LDES technologies and disadvantaged communities.
SBIR PHASE 1 RELEASE 2 TOPICS
On November 7, 2022, DOE released its FY 23 SBIR Phase I topics, which included the following two OE topics/subtopics:
Topic C56-08 – Advanced Grid Technologies
- Advanced Materials for Power Electronic Components in Medium and High Voltage Grid Applications
- Grid-Enhancing Technologies to Reduce Electricity Delivery Losses and Improve T&D Systems Energy Efficiency and Utilization
Topic C56-09 – Advanced Power Conversion System for Grid-Tied Energy Storage & Energy Storage Deployment
- High Density Cell-Level Battery Power Converters for Next Generation Grid-Tied Energy Storage Systems
- Innovations to Accelerate Energy Storage Deployment
ELECTRICITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE
In 2022, DOE’s Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC) provided recommendations to the Secretary of Energy about voluntary model pathways for modernizing the electric grid. In addition, the EAC provided recommendations for strengthening the resilience of Defense Critical Electric Infrastructure. Recommendations from the EAC are an important component of DOE’s strategy to improve its research and development portfolio and program activities.