The United States Department of Energy (DOE) are awarding up to $50 million to support research and development projects that improve the resilience and security of the country’s critical energy infrastructure.
The funding will go to a total of 27 projects run by the DOE National Laboratories (DOE Labs) and their partners.
Withstanding and recovering from severe weather is a major challenge for the electricity system.
Electricity system must evolve
The U.S. electricity system faces many challenges. To meet these, and make use of new opportunities, it must continue to evolve, say the DOE.
Severe weather, cyber threats, and an aging infrastructure are among the biggest challenges.
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry says:
“As round-the-clock efforts continue to help communities recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the need to continue strengthening and improving our electricity delivery system to withstand and recover from disruptions has become even more compelling.”
New opportunities include making it possible for consumers to participate in electricity markets (such as selling their surplus solar energy), new and changing types of electricity generation, and the growth of the Internet of Things.
More than $20 million of the funding will go to 20 projects working on next-generation cybersecurity tools and technologies that improve reliability and resilience of the U.S.’s electricity grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure.
The projects cover topics such as: reducing vulnerability; identifying exposure of energy delivery systems to public internet; adapting energy systems to survive cyber attacks; cybersecure communications for resilient architectures; tools and technologies that improve cybersecurity in the energy sector.
They continue the collaboration that began with the Roadmap to Achieve Energy Delivery Systems Cybersecurity.
The rest of the funding – comprising $32 million over 3 years – will be for seven projects that have the goal of improving the resilience of electricity distribution systems, including microgrids.
The projects, which come under the Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI), will focus on topics that include: advanced controls; grid architecture; microgrids; integration of clean distributed energy resources (DER); and emerging grid technologies at a regional scale.
One of the larger projects, which will be receiving $6.0 million over 3 years, aims to “accelerate the deployment of resilient and secure distribution concepts through the flexible operation of traditional assets, DERs, and micogrids using OpenFMB.”
The organizations partnering DOE Labs on this project are: Anderson Civic Center, Avista Utilities, Duke Energy, GE Grid Solutions, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of Tennessee, and Smart Electric Power Alliance.