PNNL Helps Lead Grid Modernization with New DOE Projects

The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will lead two new projects to advance resilient distribution systems, focusing on the integration of clean distributed energy resources. PNNL will also partner with other labs on three additional demonstrations aimed at validating new approaches and technologies to make the aging grid more resilient and secure.

DOE announced today that up to $32 million dollars will go to seven projects — including the five involving PNNL — aimed at creating more resilient distribution systems as part of the department's Grid Modernization Initiative.

With the new project funding, PNNL will lead a team to demonstrate resilient and secure power distribution strategies that allow for more flexible distribution, as well as the integration of more distributed energy resources such as customer-owned solar production. Duke Energy, a core team member based in North Carolina, will test these strategies in its six-state service territory.

The flexibility scheme will be applicable to a wide range of technology combinations, but the field demonstration will focus on a specific example of a "self-healing" grid approach. A fault location, isolation and restoration system will focus on connections between localized small solar power installations. The developed capabilities will be applied across of all of Duke's service territory, as well as utilities across the nation. The project, called Increasing Distribution Resiliency using Flexible DER and Microgrid Assets Enabled by OpenFMB, is funded at up to $6 million over three years and includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

PNNL will also lead the Laboratory Value Analysis Team for each of the other six resilient distribution system projects. Using metrics developed by the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium, the analysis team will assess and determine the economic value of the project impacts and validate the technologies and operations strategies in each project before and after deployment.

The LVAT team will use market data reflecting current energy, ancillary services, outage cost estimates and avoided capital cost estimates, as well as perform projections to estimate future values of such services or benefits of the technologies demonstrated. PNNL will team with NREL, Argonne, Lawrence Berkeley and Sandia national laboratories in this assessment.

PNNL experts will also team on three other resilient distribution system project teams.

  • Resilient Alaskan Distribution System Improvements using Automation, Network Analysis, Control, and Energy Storage (RADIANCE). Led by Idaho National Laboratory, this project aims to enhance the resilience of distribution grids under harsh weather, cyberthreats and dynamic grid conditions using multiple networked microgrids, energy storage and advanced measurement devices.
  • Integration of Responsive Residential Loads intoDistribution Management Systems. Led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, this project will research and test resilience and interoperability of open-source home energy management systems with distribution management systems — a collection of applications that monitor and control electricity distribution networks.
  • CleanStart-DERMS. Led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, this project will demonstrate the ability of distributed energy resources — for example, microgrids or fuel cells — to play an essential role in outage recovery and restoration activities. This research is expected to be transformational to utilities that experience a rapid influx of distributed energy resources.

The full list of all new resilient distribution system projects funded through DOE's Grid Modernization Initiative is available on DOE's website.

PNNL is nationally recognized for expertise in power system engineering, data analytics, grid architecture, high-performance and exascale computing, energy storage and cybersecurity.

These project awards and ensuing demonstrations are funded over three years.