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Research Highlights

Modern Grid, Massive Potential

PNNL involved in 40 projects as part of sweeping national effort toward power grid modernization

January 2016
Modern Grid, Massive Potential

Our nation's power system is facing a myriad of new challenges and opportunities. In order to meet new demands and priorities, the electric grid is in need of major upgrades. Announced in January, the Department of Energy's Offices of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability and Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy are funding that effort that to the tune of $220 million.

PNNL, a co-lead for DOE's Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC), will be involved in 40 of the resulting research projects. They include:

The GMLC was established as a strategic partnership between DOE and the National Laboratories to bring together leading experts and resources to collaborate on the goal of modernizing the nation’s grid.

Six broad technical areas cover the scope of GMLC research. They include:

  • Devices and Integrated Systems Testing
  • Sensing and Measurements
  • System Operations, Power Flow, and Control
  • Design and Planning Tools
  • Security and Resilience
  • Institutional Support
  • Grid Architecture — Create a new grid architecture or "big picture" of the grid and how each minute part affects the others. Developing this architecture with industry leaders will help inform decisions about proposed changes to the grid in this modernization effort to ensure no unintended consequences result.
  • Control Theory — Develop the mathematical underpinnings needed to provide effective and stable control mechanisms that will enable millions of distributed storage and generation resources, like batteries and solar power, to ensure grid reliability.
  • Standards for Grid Services — Develop protocols to test how distributed smart devices can help balance supply and demand to maintain proper frequency and voltage required for grid stability.
  • Foundational Analysis — Develop a "dash-board" of performance metrics for industry and policy makers to better measure the technical progress of grid modernization in improving resiliency, security, flexibility, sustainability, and affordability.

"The consortium is tackling the profound and unprecedented scope, scale and pace of change facing our power grid in light of increasing use of clean energy sources, the need for new business and market structures, the opportunities presented by new sensors and high performance computing, and the increasingly active participation of consumers and devices at the fringe of the grid like distributed storage and generation," said Carl Imhoff, PNNL's Electricity Infrastructure manager and co-lead for the GMLC.

For more information on PNNL’s grid modernization efforts, read the news release.

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