The Department of Energy didn’t mention microgrids much in a recent report on grid reliability, but it did back the technology today in a $50 million energy resilience and security package.
The money will go to the DOE’s national laboratories for early research on tools – including microgrids – to help communities recover from the kind of devastation wrought in recent weeks by hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
“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,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, in a statement released with the announcement.
$32 million for grid resilience
In all, up to $32 million of the funds will be applied to seven ‘Resilient Distribution Systems’ projects, including more than $12 million for two microgrids.
One microgrid award will go toward developing multiple networked microgrids, energy storage, and early-stage grid technologies for the Alaskan grid. Using zonal approaches in multiple loosely and tightly networked microgrids, the project aims to increase grid resilience under harsh weather and cyber-threats.
The project team includes Siemens, Washington State University, Florida State University, New Mexico State University, Microgrid Solutions, City of Cordova, Cordova Electric Cooperative, Alaska Center for Energy and Power and the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative. The research labs involved are Idaho National Lab, Sandia National Lab and Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL).
The project will receive $6.2 million over three years.
The second microgrid project, which will receive $6 million over three years, will explore how to accelerate the deployment of resilient and secure distribution concepts through the flexible operation of traditional assets, distributed energy resources, and microgrids using OpenFMB (aka field message bus).
Project participants include Anderson Civic Center, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Avista Utilities, Duke Energy, GE Grid Solutions, University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of Tennessee and Smart Electric Power Alliance. The research labs are Oak Ridge, the National Lab, National Renewable Energy Lab and PNNL.
A full list of the grid resilience projects is available on the DOE website.
$20 million for cybersecurity, microgrids
In addition to the grid resilience awards, the DOE announced $20 million to bring greater cybersecurity to the electric grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure.
One project will focus on developing a cyber-attack-resilient architecture for next-generation electricity distribution systems that use distributed energy resources and microgrids to improve reliability.
Project partners include Eaton, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Southern Methodist University, Commonwealth Edison, PJM Interconnection, and the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center.
A detailed list of the 20 cybersecurity projects selected for awards is available here.
Since 2010, the DOE has invested more than $270 million in cybersecurity research, development, and demonstration projects that are led by industry, universities, and DOE’s National Laboratories.
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