- The Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has tapped a dozen projects for $33 million in grants as part of the agency's Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) program, which looks to develop technologies to coordinate load and generation on the grid.
- The largest grants, $3.9 million each, will go to General Electric Global Research in New York and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado, working on projects that will aggregate flexible loads and use homes to provide real-time voltage and frequency control.
- ARPA-E Director Ellen Williams said the projects will make " the concept of virtual energy storage a practical reality."
The Department of Energy has continued to fund research into how the electric grid can unify disparate generation sources and flexible loads, a concept quickly gaining traction and known by a variety of names, from Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems to Virtual Power Plants.
“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,” Williams said in a statement. “The research and development of these grid control technologies will make the concept of virtual energy storage a practical reality."
DOE's NODES program was formed to create "a new approach" to managing the two-way flow of power to and from homes and businesses, ultimately looking to manage the intermittent nature of renewable energy. "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," Williams said.
In addition to the large grants to General Electric Global Research and NREL, the University of California at San Diego received $2.3 million to develop software using intelligent control and optimization for flexible loads and distributed resources, to provide reliable frequency regulation services for the bulk power grid.
The University of Vermont will also receive $1.5 million to develop a new approach for demand-side management called packetized energy management, which DOE said "builds on approaches used to manage data in communication networks without centralized control and requires a high level of privacy."
NODES is aiming to help push renewable power usage to more than 50% around the United States' grid. A full list of the dozen funded projects can be found here.