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Energy and Environment,

Electricity Infrastructure

Modernization for a secure, robust, and vibrant electric grid

Carl Imhoff

(509) 375-4328

The electric grid—a staple of our daily lives and the nation's economy—is considered to be one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century. But increased electricity use by the nation's population as well as natural and human forces are changing the face of our already-stretched-thin electricity infrastructure. Such forces include mayhem resulting from cyber-attacks and extreme weather events that cause billions of dollars in physical and economic damage.

At PNNL, we are partnering closely with DOE, other national labs, industry, and academia to modernize the grid and achieve a more secure, robust, and vibrant energy infrastructure.

Our research areas include

  • Advanced grid modeling: We are developing grid modeling, simulation, and analysis tools needed to understand the interdependencies among grid subsystems—transmission, distribution, and communication—impacted by the increasing penetration of renewables.
  • Energy storage: We are leaders in developing stationary, large-scale batteries for a resilient, more reliable power grid as well as longer-life batteries for the electric vehicle market. Our advancements range from vanadium redox flow batteries used for grid energy storage to powering devices the size of two grains of rice.
  • Grid architecture: We are building architectural depictions and tools that give utilities a common approach for investments and technology developments. These tools will allow a better understanding of the challenges that could significantly reduce the benefits and value of these investments
  • SmartGrid R&D: We are leading the charge on transactive energy—turning traditional "one-way" electricity delivery into a two-way transactive power grid. We successfully pioneered the first transactive energy demonstrations, and we continue to develop this approach through projects that span multiple campuses.
  • Cyber: We are partnering with utilities by developing programs that foster cyber threat information sharing as well as training that links industry, government, and law enforcement agencies together to conduct cyber-attack scenario exercises.
  • Emergency response: Through new satellite-based tools, we are helping utilities and other stakeholders identify areas of greatest infrastructure damage from extreme weather events, such as hurricanes or tornados.

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 (GMLC).

This strategic partnership between DOE and 13 of its national laboratories involves coordinating unique capabilities across collaborating institutions. As a part of this effort, PNNL researchers are helping develop 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.

See a complete list of the GMLC projects that our researchers are working on.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas