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How to Make a Modern Grid

New grid architecture report, website contains analyses and insights for industry and decision makers

February 2016
How to Make a Modern Grid

When updating a 100-year-old house, you consult a building architect. What about updating a 100-year-old United States electrical grid, one of the most complex engineered systems on the planet? Well, a grid architect, of course.

A newly published PNNL report, funded through DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, describes seven paradigm shifts that have proven especially useful for grid architecture work. Chief among these is the need to view the grid as a network of structures for maximum visibility across the system.

For example, vertical silos among different systems constrain the flow of data between critical grid functions. As the speed of grid dynamics increase, any lag or disconnect in the system compounds the inefficiency and overall functionality of the system, directly impacting both utilities and consumers.

The new report provides a reasoned look into the regulatory and ownership implications of the "status quo" versus the modern grid paradigm, and introduces the first of several planned Grid Architecture tools. In addition, 17 "architectural insights" zero in on key principles critical for industry to engage with confidence in the national push toward grid modernization. It also includes illustrations of key concepts, structures, and several new architectural views.

Grid architecture uses advanced system architecture principles, combined with network theory, control theory, and software engineering to define the overall shape of the system, its attributes, and how the parts interact. The methodology makes use of emerging utility industry trends and advanced paradigms to reveal insights that stakeholders can use in making important decisions related to grid modernization.

This report, its predecessor, and many other key resources for Grid Architecture are now available on PNNL's Grid Architecture website, a one-stop shop for extensive background definitions, tutorials, advanced views, and reference documents.

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