DOE Releases Millions in Funding for Clean Energy Research for Grid Reliability

The Biden-Harris administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is releasing $26 million to fund projects that will demonstrate that America’s electricity grid can reliably run with a mix of solar, wind, energy storage and other clean distributed energy resources. Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Solar and Wind Grid Services and Reliability Demonstration Program will show how clean energy resources can address key reliability challenges facing the grid by developing and testing tools and plant functions that allow the grid to stay online amid disturbances and restart if it goes down. The demonstration projects will provide data to underscore how President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030 can be achieved while supporting grid reliability.

“Americans do not have to choose between a clean grid and a reliable one as we move forward towards our goals of a net-zero economy by 2050,” says U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, DOE is proving that transitioning to solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources can keep the lights on without service interruptions, while creating good paying jobs.”

The U.S. electricity grid was originally built to deliver power from just a few large fossil fuel power plants to homes and businesses, but today’s grid has a mix of traditional and renewable energy sources. The DOE has invested in new tools that allow grid operators to manage this increasingly complex network. Grid operators face increasing disruptions like cyberattacks, extreme weather and wildfires. These tools now need to be proven on a wider scale to gain trust and increase their adoption. Clean energy sources like solar and wind generation, and energy storage, must be able to support the grid in both normal and emergency situations in order to create a clean power sector. 

The Solar and Wind Grid Services and Reliability Demonstration Program will finance up to 10 projects that demonstrate how large scale solar, wind and energy storage can help support the power grid by automatically adapting to changing demand and disruptions. The projects will require testing at a minimum of 10 MW plant using a mix of solar and wind generation or storage technology. This will demonstrate how a clean grid prevents blackouts through the rapid identification and response to faults.

It is encouraged for academic institutions, private companies and nonprofits, as well as state and local governments and tribal nations to apply for and form diverse teams that include representatives of entities such historically Black colleges, universities, minority-serving organizations, and community-based organisations.

Through DOE’s new Building a Better Grid Initiative DOE, is deploying more than $20 billion in federal financing tools, including through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s new $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program, $3 billion expansion of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, and more than $10 billion in grants for states, Tribes, and utilities to enhance grid resilience and prevent power outages, and through existing tools, including the more than $3 billion Western Area Power Administration Transmission Infrastructure Program, and a number of loan guarantee programs through the Loan Programs Office.

Image: Andreas Gücklhorn on Unsplash