Skip to Main Content U.S. Department of Energy
Energy and Environment,

Electricity Infrastructure Capabilities

Through research, development, and thought leadership, PNNL's Energy Infrastructure sector is helping prepare our national electric infrastructure for tomorrow's energy needs, pioneering the way to an affordable, clean, reliable, and secure energy future.

Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center—Enabling world-class research and training

The Electricity Infrastructure Operations Center (EIOC) is a fully capable control room that provides a unique view of grid operations and a first-of-a-kind setting for the research, development, and deployment of grid technologies.

EIOC provides a risk-free environment for learning how to better manage and control the grid. Using real data from major regional utilities, researchers can explore the effects of various scenarios and technologies on the grid without risking system performance. EIOC has the unique ability to simulate interconnection-scale models, providing insight on grid performance at an unprecedented scale. EIOC is also a state-of-the-art training facility for operators and has the capacity to provide operational support.

High-performance computational platform

PNNL is developing a high-performance computational platform for tomorrow's power system applications, which will be commonly available to utilities in the next five to ten years. Helped by advances in grid monitoring (phasor networks, smart meters, and other sensors), high-performance computing will dramatically improve grid operations--providing the ability to solve large sparse matrices common to grid applications and enabling real-time state estimation, faster-than-real-time dynamic simulation, and dynamic contingency analysis.


GridLAB-D™ is a world class high-resolution simulator for the distribution layer. This next generation tool reveals how the distribution system of the future will operate, enhancing our understanding of how distribution data can be most effectively analyzed and made available to grid operators. GridLAB-D incorporates the most advanced modeling techniques with high-performance algorithms to deliver incredible fidelity—down to the interaction of individual devices at the customer level. An open source software that was developed by PNNL and has continued to evolve with input from our partners, GridLAB-D can be integrated with many existing tools for easier availability to utilities.

Smart grid fundamental knowledge and foresight

Our strengths lie in our experience and our foresight. PNNL has been working on concepts related to the smart grid since the early 1990s, and was engaged in its early conception and origination. Our staff of more than 40 power and mechanical engineers possesses substantial experience in cutting-edge research and two decades of knowledge based on our history of pioneering many aspects of the smart grid. We are using our unique strengths as a national laboratory to apply our expertise to solve critical national problems as the nation prepares to transform our power system.

Rim Flow and Redox

When it comes to renewable energy, the key question is how do we add large-scale renewable energy resources such as wind and solar and still provide the energy needed to keep the lights on? Over the years, PNNL has developed substantial knowledge working with utilities across the country on how to solve the challenges of adding large amounts of renewable generation to our power system. Our emerging Renewables Integration Model (RIM) tool enables regional planners and utilities to analyze the impacts of adding renewables by assessing their reliability impacts—down to the minute-by-minute level. And our research in flow redox and sodium-beta technologies is providing the fundamental science capabilities to develop world class energy storage solutions that allow the large-scale integration of renewable energy storage at half the cost, meeting the demanding system requirements of the future clean, renewable grid.

Production cost model and expertise

PNNL's production cost modeling expertise is delivering a better understanding of future needs of the power grid. Using a commercial tool (PROMOD by Ventex) that provides up-to-date information on U.S. utility systems (including lines, generators, and substations), our trained and experienced researchers are developing state-of-the-art utility grade models that allow us to evaluate the benefits and impacts of the smart grid scenarios of the future.

Energy and Environment

Core Research Areas



Electricity Infrastructure



Featured Research

EED News