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US government aims $50m at grid resiliency projects

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The US department of energy has announced $50m in funding to enable grid resiliency in the face of cyberattacks and storms.

At the centre of the funding is $33 million for seven projects from the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium. The GMLC launched early last year with $220 million in funding for 88 projects around the country. The consortium was created as part of DOE’s grid modernization initiative to coordinate the work of its national laboratories with public and private-sector partners. 

Greentech Media reports that one tranche of funding is aimed at a project entitled, “Increasing Distribution Resiliency using Flexible Distributed Energy Resources (DER) and Microgrid Assets Enabled by OpenFMB” (Open Field Message Bus, the standard-under-development for communications between devices like smart meters, grid sensors, smart inverters and other DERs).
Department of Energy emblem
Laboratories Pacific Northwest, Oak Ridge and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are participating alongside Duke Energy, Avista, GE Grid Solutions, University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of Tennessee and the Smart Electric Power Alliance.

The goal of this $6 million project is see if an OpenFMB-maintained networks of DERs and microgrids can be run securely and reliably enough to be used as “boundary conditions” (i.e., as part of the envelope of constantly updated data that tells utilities and grid operators what they can and can’t do). Duke is running microgrids testing the concept at the moment.

Another project with a $6 million grant, and the goal of mitigating grid disruptions through DERs, is called Grid Resilience and Intelligence Platform (GRIP). It has as its goal to “anticipate, absorb and recover from grid events by demonstrating predictive analytics capabilities, combining state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, and controlling DERs.”

This project involves Tesla for its solar pv and Powerwall battery expertise, along with Southern California Edison, Packetized Energy, Vermont Electric Coop, University of California Berkeley, Stanford University and the University of Vermont.

Home energy management systems (HEMS) are the focus of another $6 million project being run by PNNL and Oak Ridge, two labs with decades of experience in field-testing home-to-grid integration. Big utilities involved include Southern Company, Tennessee Valley Authority, Duke, Con Edison, Chattanooga, Tenn.’s Electric Power Board and Jackson EMC. 

Two more projects are aimed at the post-blackout phase of grid reliability. The first is a $6.2 million project dubbed RADIANCE, featuring grid giant Siemens and a host of university partners. The project is proposing to deploy “multiple networked microgrids, energy storage and early-stage grid technologies” with partners including Alaska’s Cordova Electric Cooperative, Alaska Center for Energy and Power and Alaska Village Electric Cooperative. 

The other, dubbed CleanStart-DERMS, is focused on a “DER-driven mitigation, blackstart and restoration strategy for distribution feeders” (i.e., how distributed energy assets could help keep isolated feeders running in the moments after a blackout). This could be useful, but also dangerous if the utility isn’t kept informed about it, which means that it will have to include an “applied robust control, communications and analytics layer, and coordinated hierarchical solution."

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