DOE Announces 12 New Projects to Accelerate Technologies that Improve the Efficiency and Reliability of the U.S. Electric Grid

Modern electric grid

The U.S. Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) today announced $33 million in funding for 12 innovative projects as part of ARPA-E’s Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) program. NODES project teams will develop technologies that coordinate load and generation on the electric grid to create a virtual energy storage system. The teams will develop innovative hardware and software solutions to integrate and coordinate generation, transmission, and end-use energy systems at various points on the electric grid. These control systems will enable real-time coordination between distributed generation, such as rooftop and community solar assets and bulk power generation, while proactively shaping electric load. This will alleviate periods of costly peak demand, reduce wasted energy, and increase renewables penetration on the grid.

“The NODES program continues ARPA-E’s commitment to investing in technologies that can provide options for our energy infrastructure and its arising operational challenges,” said ARPA-E Director Dr. Ellen D. Williams. “The research and development of these grid control technologies will make the concept of virtual energy storage a practical reality. The result will enhance the resiliency, security and flexibility of our nation’s electric grid and allow the U.S. to make the best use of its abundant renewable energy resources.”

The NODES program aims to create a new approach to management of the two-way flow of power to and from homes and businesses that consume and deliver electricity back to the grid. The resulting virtual energy storage will manage the intermittency of renewable energy, the lack of electricity production when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. The expected benefits of these technologies include improving grid efficiency, reducing CO2 emissions in power generation, and significant savings of system costs.

The increasing use of renewable generation and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), such as residential solar and home energy storage, along with customers’ changing energy use patterns is leading to greater uncertainty and variability in the electric grid. NODES project teams will address these challenges in grid operation through system-wide control and coordination of DERs and flexible load. These technologies will seek to improve the overall efficiency and reliability of the U.S. electric grid while retaining customers’ quality of service. The goal of the program is to enable more than 50% usage of renewable power on the grid.

Details on all 12 of the NODES projects may be found HERE.

Examples of the selected NODES projects are below:

University of Vermont, Burlington, VT ($1,537,904) – Packetized Energy Management: Coordinating Transmission and Distribution

The University of Vermont (UVM) will develop and test a new approach for demand-side management called packetized energy management (PEM) that builds on approaches used to manage data in communication networks without centralized control and requires a high level of privacy. The PEM system will allow millions of small end-use devices to cooperatively balance energy supply and demand in real time without jeopardizing the reliability of the grid or the quality of service to consumers. The project will develop the PEM method to manage large, rapid fluctuations associated with renewable power generation, while simultaneously ensuring grid reliability. To ensure UVM’s PEM method, the integrated system will undergo extensive simulation testing with large-scale hardware implementation for the bulk power grid and in industry-scale, micro-grid environments.

University of California: San Diego, La Jolla, CA ($2,338,485) – Distributed Grid Control of Flexible Loads and DERs for Optimized Provision of Synthetic Regulating Reserves

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) will develop coordination algorithms and software using intelligent control and optimization for flexible load and DERs to provide reliable frequency regulation services for the bulk power grid. The project will develop a multi-layer framework for larger-scale energy aggregators to act on behalf of their smaller-sized customers to help respond to incoming requests from regional transmission operators. The team will develop approaches that aggregators can use to quantify reserves, system objectives and constraints, customer usage patterns, and generation forecasts. Aggregators will use distributed coordination algorithms to rapidly respond to operators while considering network constraints and quality of services for customers. The UCSD’s technology to manage flexible loads and DERs offers economic and operational advantages for utilities, operators and customers.

Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ ($3,000,000) – Stochastic Optimal Power Flow for Real-Time Management of Distributed Renewable Generation and Demand Response

Arizona State University (ASU) will develop a stochastic (randomly determined) optimal power flow (SOPF) framework, which would integrate uncertainty from renewable resources, load, distributed storage, and demand response technologies into bulk power system in a holistic manner. The algorithms will be implemented in a SOPF software tool to provide system operators with real-time guidance to help coordinate between DERs and demand response. ASU’s project features unique data-analytics based short-term forecast for bulk wind and solar generation and an advisory tool that generates real-time recommendations for market operators based on algorithm outputs.

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