With demand for electricity expected to grow nearly 30 percent by 2040, our nation's electric infrastructure needs substantial upgrades. Technological advancements that use information technology for greater sensing, communications, and control throughout the power system promise to make the current power infrastructure more effective and offer opportunities to improve overall performance through new, smart transmission, distribution, and generation assets.
PNNL is delivering the science, technology, and leadership to transform our nation's aging power grid into one that is clean, efficient, reliable, and resilient. Focused on the vital needs of the energy infrastructure, we are taking a system-wide approach to grid modernization to help realize the "smart grid" of tomorrow—where energy technology meets information technology through a network architecture as big as the Internet but faster, with unprecedented updates at all levels: generation, transmission, distribution, and end use.
Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium
The challenge to transform the U.S. power grid to meet the demands of the 21st century is daunting and urgent. To meet this challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy harnessed the scientific and technical power of its national laboratory system with the formation of the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium.
This strategic partnership between DOE and 14 of its national laboratories involves coordinating unique capabilities across collaborating institutions. Together, grid experts are developing the framework for U.S. industry and regulators to achieve a national power grid that seamlessly delivers clean and reliable electricity to people wherever they are, whenever they need it.
Distributed energy resources (DERs), like renewable solar photovoltaic and energy storage systems, are part of the answer to a more diversified power supply. But, the interconnection application process for bringing these new resources online has proven inefficient for both utilities and the owners of these systems. A new software tool, called GridUnity™, helps utilities cut application review times from months to only one and a half hours.
Low-e storm windows tested under real conditions by PNNL are being considered for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR label. PNNL's building modeling, home experiments, and market assessment research helped provide a baseline for the Framework Document released by the agency.
Through the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, researchers at PNNL discovered how a salt used in the electrolyte plays a critical role in allowing lithium-sulfur batteries to hold a charge after more than 200 uses; this work offers needed design principles for creating long-lasting, high-capacity batteries.
The National Academy of Engineering selected Jeff Dagle, Chief Electrical Engineer at PNNL, for its electricity resilience committee. Dagle is the sole national laboratory member of the committee, which is comprised of a dozen representatives from academia and industry. He leads a wide range of PNNL's grid modernization efforts related to transmission reliability and control system security.
Researchers at PNNL have revealed a new intermediate temperature sodium-metal halide battery design that is more stable and less expensive to manufacture. The new design uses a very thin solid-state electrolyte plate made of a beta-alumina and yttria-stabilized zirconia composite—a ceramic. In contrast, ZEBRA sodium-metal halide batteries use a thick tubular shaped solid-state electrolyte made of pure beta-alumina.