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

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.

Notable projects include: 

  • Pioneering an approach to demonstrate how hybridization could transform utility-scale wind and PV generation into dispatchable resources. 
  • An experimental evaluation of physical security of large and localized power plants against electromagnetic threats and attacks.
  • Enabling generators to evaluate impacts and risks associated with water resources for increased reliability and resilience. 
  • An expansion of HELICS—the Hierarchical Engine for Large-scale Infrastructure Co-Simulation, which is an open-source cyber-physical-energy co-simulation framework for electric power systems—to address gaps in scalable integration. 
  • A near-term reliability and resilience analysis—which has yet to be awarded. 
  • An architecture to aggregate and manage a broad range of DERs, including solar PV, storage, electric vehicles, flexible loads, and combined heat and power plants. 
  • Validation of black start with only DER and storage sited at Plum Island offshore Long Island Sound, an 840-acre island run by the Department for Homeland Security. 
  • A project to leverage advanced tools and datasets to provide “foundational assistance” to ISOs and RTOs and help them “face numerous challenges in maintaining reliability, resiliency, and affordability in an evolving power system.”
  • Furnishing public utility commissions “in-depth” technical assistance to help them better support grid modernization. 
  • A firmware command and control project to allow bi-directional sharing of cyber/physical threats to upstream energy security operations. 
  • A project to develop artificial intelligence that will use operational technology and the DER network to detect threats. 
  • Developing cross-sector guidance, standards, and metrics to help novel blockchain-based concepts for device security, secure communications, and grid resilience, mature. 

The full list is here: 

Project Name Objective National Laboratories Partners
RESILIENCE MODELING
1 Development and Calculation of Performance-Based Resilience Metrics for Defense Critical Infrastructure This project is developing models that will calculate time-varying performance of Defense Critical Infrastructure (DCI) during long-duration bulk power system outages. We are vetting the resilience metrics and the models with DoD and industry stakeholders. SNL

LLNL

NREL

LBNL

LANL

Dominion Energy, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA),

US Army Corps of Engineers, Office of the Secretary of Defense, US Air Force, US Army, EPRI

2 HELICS+: From a Facilitator to a Hub GMLC and industry has been using HELICS in their projects to comprehensively analyze and assess the increasing interdependency among critical infrastructures. This project will address gaps in in scalable integration with diverse infrastructures and usability for co-simulation complexity. PNNL

LLNL

NREL

ANL

INL

NRECA, Avista, Interstate Natural Gas Assoc. of America, PJM, Exelon,

Eaton/CYME, Delta Star, encoord, Washington State University (WSU), Clemson

3 Near-Term Reliability and Resilience Analysis Shifts in the generation resource mix impact many facets of grid operation including dispatch, reserve margins, direction of power flow, power quality, etc.  The project activities include analyzing the reliability of the provision of power, and the grid’s resilience to recover from outages. Given the generation trends, existing grid architecture, and existing and near-term policies. TBD TBD
ENERGY STORAGE AND FLEXIBILITY
4 Federated Architecture for Secure and Transactive Distributed Energy Resource Management Solutions (FAST-DERMS) The project team will design and develop an architecture, FAST-DERMS that can aggregate and manage a broad range of DERs (PV, storage, EV, flexible loads, CHP, and other distributed generators) across the grid for bulk system services. NREL

LBNL

PNNL

ORNL

EPRI, Southern Company, ComEd, SDG&E, Entergy, NYPA, Centrica, Oracle, Iowa State University, and University of North Carolina – Charlotte
5 Citadels This project will enable networked microgrids, and their component distributed energy resources (DER), to operate in a distributed manner using collaborative autonomy concepts implemented in an OpenFMB architecture. PNNL

LLNL

ORNL

SNL

WSU, Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB),  Commonwealth Edison (ComEd),

Open Energy System Inc. (OES),

Avista Utilities, Duke Energy, City of Riverside Public Utilities, Entergy, Southern Company

6 Validation, Restoration and Black Start Testing of Sensing, Controls and DER Technologies at Plum Island The Plum Island project will transform black start with DER and Storage, from foundational research based demonstrations, to a viable method for restarting and restoring the bulk power system after critical outages  – dramatically increasing the toolbox for operators in the face of both physical and cyber incidents LLNL

PNNL

INL

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Homeland Security,

Southern Co, EPB, DTE Electric, American Electric Power, Rochester Power Utilities,

EPRI, OSISoft, UIUC

7 Multi-Port Modular Medium-Voltage (M3) Transactive Power Electronics Energy Hub This project will continue to develop the advance smart power electronics hardware and software interfaces for grid applications.  The project team will design and develop and demonstrate direct grid connect Medium Voltage (upto 13.8 kV) Multiport power electronics “energy hub”. ORNL

NETL

NREL

PNNL

Microchip, Semikron, Power America, FlexPower, Southern Company, NRECA, CURENT (Univ. of Tenn. Knoxville, NCSU
8 Grid Services, Energy Services Interfaces & Grid Connected Devices The project team will work with industry to define common framework to represent grid services & develop standardized ESI specification to simplify DER integration. LBNL

PNNL

NREL

ORNL

ANL

Southern California Edison, SMUD, Exelon (PECO, PSE&G & ComEd), South Eastern Utilities, Duke, TVA, Avista

Clean Power Alliance, Sonoma Clean Power, Lancaster,

SEPA, NIST, OpenADR Alliance, EPRI, NRECA, AHAM

IEEE, ASHRAE, SAE,

CPUC, CEC, NARUC, FERC, CAISO, PJM, ERCOT, Olivine, Intwine Connect, Eaton, Honeywell, Siemens, EP&A, Enlighted, Johnson Controls, Ford Motor Co., Emerson, Carrier, Rheem, Amzur Technologies, Ecogy Energy, Dig-y-sol, DERNetSoft, Chargepoint, Green Lots, Stem, SkyCentric

ADVANCED SENSORS AND DATA ANALYTICS
9 Incipient Failure Identification for Common Grid Asset Classes This project will operationalize a multi- variate, multi-modal approach to diagnose and prescribe remediation pathways for both short term but critical failures locally and incipient growing problems centrally in commonly utilized equipment throughout the country. LLNL

NETL

ORNL

SNL

OSISoft,

EPRI,

SCE,

Texas A & M University

10 GridSweeper: Frequency Response of Bulk Low-Inertia Grids The project team will create a new class of measuring instrument that reveals subtle dynamics of bulk grids.  Probes inject a tiny signal and analyzes the response with ultra-high precision, applying novel devices and techniques. LBNL

LLNL

PNNL

McEachern Laboratories Inc., Idaho Power, Hawaiian Electric Co.
INSTITUTIONAL SUPPORT
11 Foundational Assistance to ISO/RTOs under Electricity Market Transformation ISOs and RTOs face numerous challenges in maintaining reliability, resiliency, and affordability in an evolving power system. This project will leverage the advanced methods, tools, datasets and resources of the national labs and industry/academic partners to provided robust analytical support to address ISO/RTO-identified challenges. ANL

LBNL

NREL

EPRI,

Johns Hopkins University

12 State Technical Assistance to Public Utility Commissions The project team will deliver in-depth technical assistance to 10-20 state public utility commissions for 1-2 year durations on any topic that can meaningfully and substantively support their grid modernization or energy infrastructure initiatives using a proactive-annual solicitation process. LBNL

PNNL

NREL

ANL

ORNL

NARUC, RAP, E3
13 Future Electric Utility Regulation This project will provide decision-makers with access to high-quality and impartial analyses, case studies, and decision-support tools to enlist utilities and customers as partners in grid modernization and consider alternative regulatory approaches. LBNL

NREL

NARUC, NRRI, Michigan State University Institute of Public Utilities
14 Integrated Distribution System Planning:
Education, Training and Assistance
This project will provide education, training and direct technical assistance (TA) to state public utility commissions, state energy offices, state utility consumer representatives, regional entities, and other decision-makers on best practices in integrated distribution system planning and grid modernization strategies to improve reliability, resilience and electricity affordability throughout the electricity system LBNL

PNNL

NREL

LLNL

NARUC, NASEO, NASUCA, regional organizations (e.g., Southeastern Organization of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Western Interstate Energy Board, Organization of MISO States, New England Conference of Public Utility Commissioners), Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, and others (e.g., NGA and NCSL)
15 Technical Assistance: Grid-interactive Efficient Buildings In partnership with NASEO and NARUC, this project team will provide direct technical assistance to state energy offices (SEOs) and public utility commissions (PUCs) to advance buildings that can provide grid services through demand flexibility — using distributed energy resources (DERs) to reduce, shed, shift, modulate and generate electricity. DOE’s Grid-Interactive Efficient Buildings initiative envisions a future in which buildings operate dynamically with the bulk power system and distribution grid to make electricity more affordable and integrate DERs while meeting the needs of building occupants. LBNL

NREL

PNNL

NASEO, NARUC
CYBER-PHYSICAL SECURITY
16 Firmware Command and Control This project will create an agile embedded response capability foundational with baselined firmware and behaviors with bi-directional sharing of threat to upstream energy security operations. INL

ANL

SNL

NREL

Southern California Edison, Detroit Edison, Eaton, Forescout, New Context; Oakland University, Naval Post-Graduate School; Purdue
17 Byzantine Security The project team will utilize M-BFT combined with ML/AI methods to ensure that the bulk power system including protective relays and associated substation and control center systems are able to perform intrusion tolerant operations. The novel architecture and software will also detect compromised systems. PNNL

SNL

LBNL

Johns Hopkins University,

ABB, GE, SEL, WAPA, PNM, HECO

18 Digital Twin Reinforcement Learning The project team will develop new artificial intelligence (AI) deep reinforcement learning (DRL) approaches that will use operational technology/distributed energy resources network and targeted physical process data to detect sophisticated, previously unknown threats and deploy appropriate response actions. LLNL

INL

ORNL

SNL

SCE, EPB, SEL,

University of Toledo

19 Blockchain for Optimized Security and Energy Management (BLOSEM) This project team will develop cross-sector guidance, standardized metrics, and testing environments for technology maturation of novel blockchain-based concepts for device security, secure communications, & grid resilience. NETL

NREL

AMES

PNNL

SLAC

EPRI, UBIG, Hitachi, Exelon, IEEE Blockchain Working Group, Southern California Edison, Energy Web Foundation,
20 Deep Learning Malware The project team will be using guided learning and reinforcement training techniques for deep analysis of reverse engineered malware to enable similarity analysis and prediction on next malware evolution focused on the adversary tactics modeled for defense actions. INL

BNL

LLNL

New York Power Authority, Southern California Edison, Splunk
GENERATION
21 Clusters of Flexible PV-Wind-Storage Hybrid Generation (FlexPower) This project team will be pioneering an approach to demonstrate how technology hybridization can leverage the value of utility-scale wind and PV generation from being simple variable-energy resources to ones that provide ability to dispatch and a full range of reliability services to the bulk power system. NREL

INL

SNL

General Electric, First Solar, CAISO, E,RCOT, National Grid, AEMO,

SMA, Vestas, SEL

University of Denver, DTU, University of Aalborg

22 Vulnerability of Power Generation Critical Systems Against Electromagnetic Threats This project will conduct an experimental evaluation of physical security in the electric generation infrastructure against electromagnetic threats/attacks, both large-scale and localized. ORNL

LLNL

TVA, Exelon, University of Tennessee
23 Water Risk for the Bulk Power System: Asset to Grid Impacts This project aims to improve the reliability and resilience of the power sector by enabling utilities to evaluate impacts and risks associated with water resources. We will create an analysis platform that can provide environmental and economic benefits by aiding short-term operational and long-term investment decisions. NREL

SNL

NETL

ORNL

 

EPRI, CUNY, TVA, WECC, ERCOT, NYISO, MISO

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine)