New Grid Modernization Projects Announced for Resilient Distribution Systems


The demands of our 21st century society require an equally modern energy infrastructure that can distribute power to homes and businesses around the clock.  This means that our nation’s power grid must be resilient to disruptions caused by accidents, natural hazards, or deliberate attacks – physical or cyber.

If the technological challenges aren’t complex enough, grid modernization also includes a daunting array of institutional and regulatory hurdles that are constantly evolving.  To help overcome these challenges, the U.S. Department of Energy recently announced awards totaling $32 million dollars for seven grid modernization projects aimed at creating more resilient distribution systems.

As part of the department’s Grid Modernization Initiative, the projects focus on the integration of clean distributed energy resources (DER), advanced controls, grid architecture and emerging grid technologies at a regional scale. Coordinated through the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium in collaboration with both public and private partners, the projects are expected to deliver credible information on technical and economic viability of the solutions, as well as demonstrate viability to key stakeholders who are ultimately responsible for approving and investing in grid modernization activities. 

Project summaries

GRIP - Grid Resilience and Intelligence Platform. This project will anticipate, absorb, and recover from grid events by demonstrating predictive analytics capabilities, combining state of the art artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques and by demonstrating control of DERs.  Labs:  Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Resilient Alaskan Distribution System Improvements using Automation, Network Analysis, Control, and Energy Storage (RADIANCE).  Using multiple networked microgrids, energy storage, and early-stage grid technologies, this project will enhance resilience methods for distribution grids under harsh weather, cyber-threats, and dynamic grid conditions.  Labs:  Idaho National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Increasing Distribution Resiliency using Flexible DER and Microgrid Assets Enabled by OpenFMB.  This project will accelerate the deployment of resilient and secure power distribution concepts through the flexible operation of traditional electrical generation assets, DER, and microgrids using OpenFMB.  Labs:  Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (news release), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Integration of Responsive Residential Loads into Distribution Management Systems.  This project will research and validate open-source home energy management systems to support distribution resiliency use cases and end-to-end interoperability.  Labs: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

CleanStart-DERMS. This project will validate and demonstrate, at scale, a DER-driven mitigation, blackstart, and restoration strategy for distribution feeders with integration of an applied robust control, communications and analytics layer—and a coordinated hierarchical solution.  Labs: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (news release), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Resilient Distribution Systems. This activity focuses on effective integrated resource planning and metrics, control systems, inverter-dominated islanding with storage and regional consortia.   Lab: Sandia National Laboratory (blog)

Laboratory Value Analysis Team. The analysis team will provide efficiency and consistency in performing valuation analysis across the entire GMI portfolio of field validation projects using appropriate metrics.  Using a cross-cut approach will provide a consistent framework and approach in conducting the benefit/cost analysis of each project, impacts analysis (e.g. potential benefits to region) and broader synthesis of results from this project call.  This team will facilitate information sharing on consistent application of metrics & valuation framework in field validation projects to various audiences.  Labs: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (news release), Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Moving grid modernization forward

These three-year projects, awarded in response to the Energy Department’s Resilient Distribution Systems Lab Call for Proposals, support the goals outlined in the department’s Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan.  The projects build on progress from the previous Grid Modernization Lab Call in core areas like interoperability, grid architecture, grid metrics, and valuation. The new projects are expected to develop and validate innovative approaches to enhance the resilience of distribution systems, including microgrids, with high penetration of clean DERs.