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Power Grid in Line for Modern Makeover

December 2014

From its humble beginnings in the 1800s, electricity has transformed the world into a connected network so complex it’s been called “the greatest engineering accomplishment of the 20th Century.” Now, however, the United States’ critical power infrastructure is linked to an aging electrical grid that needs to include innovative energy sources such as nuclear, fossil, and renewables. And with new sources, storage options, and consumer mobility comes the increased importance of distributing power securely and reliably among millions of homes, businesses, and devices across the country.

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.

Presidential Appointee to Lead PNNL’s Nuclear Process Science Initiative
Carl Imhoff

This strategic partnership between DOE and 12 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. Carl Imhoff, manager of electricity infrastructure research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, leads the consortium’s Laboratory Integrator Team as its Chair.

“The need for a modernized grid is all around us,” Imhoff said. “The DOE laboratories are here to tackle complex problems of national importance just like this, and we are ready for the challenge.” In his role, Imhoff is accountable for all activities undertaken by the consortium’s six technical teams, each working on a specific aspect of the grid:

  • Design and planning tools
  • System control and power flow
  • Sensing and measurements
  • Devices and integrated testing
  • Security and emergency response
  • Institutional support

The Consortium’s initial tasks include developing a multi-year grid research plan to ensure connectivity, avoid redundancies, and identify gaps in the research and development needs of a modern grid. For more information, see the DOE blog.

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