Power Grid

16 Nov 2019

How the DOE Plans to Modernize the Grid in the Near Term

16 Nov 2019  by  Sonal Patel   
Twenty-three projects chosen by the Department of Energy (DOE) in response to its 2019 Grid Modernization Lab Call provide a broad look at the critical issues that are roiling the nation’s power sector, as well as the tools and technologies that it has determined will best bolster the grid of the future in the near term.

The agency last week announced $80 million in funding over the next three years to “strengthen, transform, and improve the resilience of energy infrastructure,” in response to the 2019 Grid Modernization Lab Call, which the Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI) issued in May. It is the second such solicitation by the GMI, which is a crosscutting interagency effort that fosters public and private partnerships to help keep the grid up to date with rapid changes that are transforming it. The initiative is spearheaded by five DOE offices: Fossil Energy; Nuclear Energy; Electricity; Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; and Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response.

The GMI says its first lab call in 2016 furnished the DOE’s national labs and more than 100 companies, utilities, research organizations, state regulators, and regional grid operators with $220 million for three years to mobilize 87 projects that focused on advanced storage systems, clean energy integration, standards and test procedures, and other modernization initiatives. In 2017, the DOE injected another $32 million into the GMI over three years to fund seven projects aimed at enhancing the resilience of electricity distribution systems and focused on the integration of distributed energy resources (DER’s), advanced controls, grid architecture, and other emerging grid technologies at a regional scale.

But this year, the GMI expanded work it began in 2016 to fully integrate the energy system—from fuel to generation to load. It also includes interdependent infrastructures, though its key aim is to address issues affecting the bulk power system.

The GMI’s 2019 lab call focused on developing projects in resilience modeling; energy storage and system flexibility; advanced sensors and data analytics; institutional support and analysis; cyber-physical security; and generation. The projects it solicited must demonstrate “near-term success,” it said, and should be capable of providing meaningful results within just 18 months to two years, so that they address “clear and immediate” challenges.

After a “rigorous evaluation” of nearly 90 projects, the DOE selected 23 projects for funding. “Industry participation has been identified as critical to the success of these projects. Industry’s participation will account for 20% of cost-share of the projects in this portfolio,” it said.


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