- The Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday announced an upcoming contest to award $1 million "for ideas that advance the resilience and reliability of the nation's bulk power system."
- The DOE also announced $40 million in funding for the Grid Modernization Initiative, which will focus on resilience modeling, advanced sensors, energy storage and cybersecurity, among other topics.
- While DOE said more details about the $40 million program would be released by March, the timing for the $1 million contest was specified only as "the near future."
Reliability and resilience were buzzwords in the U.S. electric power sector last year and continue to be a prime focus for energy policy officials and other stakeholders.
The Trump Administration has cited the need to improve both as a reason to support struggling coal and nuclear plants that would otherwise shut down due to competition from cheaper renewable and natural gas options.
DOE has been pursuing research and development initiatives to address the challenges to bulk power systems posed by natural disasters, cyber attacks and other real and potential sources of power outages.
On Thursday, Bruce Walker, DOE's Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity, announced the $1 million initiative at the Innovation XLab Grid Modernization Summit in Seattle, which DOE is calling the "Electricity Industry Technology and Practices Innovation Challenge."
In a statement, Walker spoke of challenging "the nation’s best and brightest to offer new ideas that will help the electricity sector continue to harness innovation for a more reliable and resilient electric grid.”
The challenge is open to industry, academia "and other innovators," DOE said, with the last category opening it up to a variety of potential applicants.
"Potential innovations may include technologies or solutions that can eliminate or mitigate existing or emerging vulnerabilities, eliminate and thwart existing and emerging threats, and mitigate or eliminate energy sector interdependencies," DOE said.
Proposed technologies and solutions should improve the planning, construction and/or operations of the bulk power system. "Solutions that incorporate fuel delivery infrastructure for generation (including hydropower) will also be considered, as long as those solutions have a direct and substantial effect on ... reliability and resilience," DOE added.
Also Thursday at the Innovation Xlab Summit, Avista and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory said they will collaborate in several areas to help increase grid reliability and resilience, including battery and thermal storage technologies, transactive building controls and advanced distribution management systems.
DOE did not respond to a request for additional information on its $1 million contest.