DoE Announces $40 Million to Boost Grid Modernization Research

Exciting news came out of Washington recently as the Department of Energy (DoE) announced $40 million worth of funding for American grid modernization.

The new funding was announced by Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes who spoke on the importance of updating the national grid during his address.

Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes speaking at last year’s National Clean Energy Week

“A reliable and resilient grid is essential to our nation’s economic and national security,” said Under Secretary Menezes, “Through this funding, and with the support of our National Labs and private sector partners, we will establish a grid that will withstand the tests and challenges of the future, while ensuring that Americans continue to enjoy the benefits of our amazing energy abundance.”The $40 million will arrive this year and go to the Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI), a wide-reaching initiative involving many players across private and public sectors.

Most of GMI’s funding comes from the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), with additional policy assistance coming from the Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis.

The Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) is the name of the strategic partnership that joins DOE National Laboratories under the common goal of bringing our national grid into the 21st Century. With this additional funding coming in 2019, GMLC won’t have to wait long to use the money for their research.

The press announcement revealed that the funding will be used to “develop new tools and technologies that measure, analyze, predict, protect, and control the grid of the future,” with research topics including resilience modeling, advanced sensors, energy storage, cybersecurity, and institutional support.

GMLC already has research underway in many of these areas. Their Advanced Modeling Grid Research Program is aimed at crunching electric grid data in order to predict and prevent issues in the grid before they happen.

Their research concerning advanced sensors and controls has led GMLC to a number of interesting projects like one that uses self-powering wireless sensors and networks to turn normal buildings into smart buildings at a low cost.

Innovative research areas like these should benefit from the $40 million fund, and hopefully the funding will bring these new technologies closer to the commercial market.

This funding announcement shows the Administration’s commitment to furthering energy innovation and protecting the national grid by securing it with modern technology that can withstand natural disasters and cyberattacks.

Of course, with something as wide-reaching as the nation’s electric grid, this funding only scratches the surface. But we’re glad to see a federal commitment dedicated to modernizing our infrastructure – it’s an important job, and one that will benefit from both sectors working together. We hope that this investment and continued focus on grid modernization will lead Congress and state leaders to take action. In fact, last summer, CRES Forum and the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) launched a paper with five recommendations for Congress to modernize the grid. Read more and watch the webinar for more details.

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