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Grid

Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology

In today's increasingly electrified world, power conversion--the process of converting electricity between different currents, voltage levels, and frequencies--forms a vital link between the electronic devices we use every day and the sources of power required to run them. The projects that make up ARPA-E's ADEPT program, short for "Agile Delivery of Electrical Power Technology," are paving the way for more energy efficient power conversion and advancing the basic building blocks of power conversion: circuits, transistors, inductors, transformers, and capacitors.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Green Electricity Network Integration

The projects in ARPA-E's GENI program, short for "Green Electricity Network Integration," aim to modernize the way electricity is transmitted in the U.S. through advances in hardware and software for the electric grid. These advances will improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity transmission, increase the amount of renewable energy the grid can utilize, and provide energy suppliers and consumers with greater control over their power flows in order to better manage peak power demand and cost.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.

Generating Realistic Information for the Development of Distribution and Transmission Algorithms

The Generating Realistic Information for the Development of Distribution and Transmission Algorithms (GRID DATA) program will fund the development of large-scale, realistic, validated, and open-access power system network models. These models will have the detail required to allow the successful development and testing of transformational power system optimization and control algorithms, including new Optimal Power Flow (OPF) algorithms. Project teams will take one of two tracks to develop models. The first option is to partner with a utility to collect and then anonymize real data as the basis for a model that can be released publically. The second approach is to construct purely synthetic power system models. The program will also fund the creation of an open-access, self-sustaining repository for the storage, annotation, and curation of these power systems models, as well as others generated by the community.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.

Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science

The IDEAS program - short for Innovative Development in Energy-Related Applied Science - provides a continuing opportunity for the rapid support of early-stage applied research to explore pioneering new concepts with the potential for transformational and disruptive changes in energy technology. IDEAS awards, which are restricted to maximums of one year in duration and $500,000 in funding, are intended to be flexible and may take the form of analyses or exploratory research that provides the agency with information useful for the subsequent development of focused technology programs. IDEAS awards may also support proof-of-concept research to develop a unique technology concept, either in an area not currently supported by the agency or as a potential enhancement to an ongoing focused technology program. This program identifies potentially disruptive concepts in energy-related technologies that challenge the status quo and represent a leap beyond today's technology. That said, an innovative concept alone is not enough. IDEAS projects must also represent a fundamentally new paradigm in energy technology and have the potential to significantly impact ARPA-E's mission areas.

Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems

The Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) Program aspires to enable renewables penetration at the 50% level or greater, by developing transformational grid management and control methods to create a virtual energy storage system based on use of flexible load and distributed energy resources (DERs). The challenge is to cost-effectively and reliably manage dynamic changes in the grid by leveraging these additional grid resources, while maintaining customer quality of service. The expected benefits include reduced periods of costly peak demand, reduced energy waste and increased penetration of renewable energy production. The NODES Program will bring together different scientific communities such as power systems, control systems, computer science, and distributed systems to accelerate the development of new technologies enabling active control of load and DERs in coordination with the grid.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2012, ARPA-E issued its second open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 4,000 concept papers for OPEN 2012, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 66 projects for its OPEN 2012 program, awarding them a total of $130 million in federal funding. OPEN 2012 projects cut across 11 technology areas: advanced fuels, advanced vehicle design and materials, building efficiency, carbon capture, grid modernization, renewable power, stationary power generation, water, as well as stationary, thermal, and transportation energy storage.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.  

Open Funding Solicitation

In 2015, ARPA-E issued its third open funding opportunity designed to catalyze transformational breakthroughs across the entire spectrum of energy technologies. ARPA-E received more than 2,000 concept papers for OPEN 2015, which hundreds of scientists and engineers thoroughly reviewed over the course of several months. In the end, ARPA-E selected 41 projects for its OPEN 2015 program, awarding them a total of $125 million in federal funding. OPEN 2015 projects cut across ten technology areas: building efficiency, industrial processes and waste heat, data management and communication, wind, solar, tidal and distributed generation, grid scale storage, power electronics, power grid system performance, vehicle efficiency, storage for electric vehicles, and alternative fuels and bio-energy.
For a detailed technical overview about this program, please click here.

Arizona State University

Stochastic Optimal Power Flow for Real-Time Management of Distributed Renewable Generation and Demand Response

Arizona State University (ASU) will develop a stochastic optimal power flow (SOPF) framework, which would integrate uncertainty from renewable resources, load, distributed storage, and demand response technologies into bulk power system management in a holistic manner. The team will develop SOPF algorithms for the security-constrained economic dispatch (SCED) problem used to manage variability in the electric grid. The algorithms will be implemented in a software tool to provide system operators with real-time guidance to help coordinate between bulk generation and large numbers of DERs and demand response. ASU's project features unique data-analytics based short-term forecast for bulk and distributed wind and solar generation utilized by the advisory tool that generates real-time recommendations for market operators based on the SOPF algorithm outputs.

AutoGrid, Inc.

Highly Dispatchable and Distributed Demand Response for the Integration of Distributed Generation

AutoGrid, in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Columbia University, will design and demonstrate automated control software that helps manage real-time demand for energy across the electric grid. Known as the Demand Response Optimization and Management System - Real-Time (DROMS-RT), the software will enable personalized price signals to be sent to millions of customers in extremely short timeframes--incentivizing them to alter their electricity use in response to grid conditions. This will help grid operators better manage unpredictable demand and supply fluctuations in short time-scales--making the power generation process more efficient and cost effective for both suppliers and consumers. DROMS-RT is expected to provide a 90% reduction in the cost of operating demand response and dynamic pricing programs in the U.S.

Bigwood Systems, Inc.

Global-Optimal Power Flow (G-OPF)

Bigwood Systems is developing a comprehensive Optimal Power Flow (OPF) modelling engine that will enhance the energy efficiency, stability, and cost effectiveness of the national electric grid. Like water flowing down a hill, electricity takes the path of least resistance which depends on the grid network topology and on grid controls. However, in a complicated networked environment, this can easily lead to costly congestion or shortages in certain areas of the electric grid. Grid operators use imperfect solutions like approximations, professional judgments, or conservative estimates to try to ensure reliability while minimizing costs. Bigwood Systems' approach will combine four separate analytical technologies to develop an OPF modeling engine that could markedly improve management of the grid. As part of this project, Bigwood Systems will demonstrate the practical applications of this tool in partnership with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

Boston University

Transmission Topology Control for Infrastructure Resilience to the Integration of Renewable Generation

The BU team is developing control technology to help grid operators more actively manage power flows and integrate renewables by optimally turning entire power lines on and off in coordination with traditional control of generation and load resources. The control technology being developed would provide grid operators with tools to help manage transmission congestion by identifying the facilities whose on/off status must change to lower generation costs, increase utilization of renewable resources and improve system reliability. The technology is based on fast optimization algorithms for the near to real-time change in the on/off status of transmission facilities and their software implementation.

California Institute of Technology

Scalable Real-Time Decentralized Volt/VAR Control

Caltech is developing a distributed automation system that allows distributed generators--solar panels, wind farms, thermal co-generation systems--to effectively manage their own power. To date, the main stumbling block for distributed automation systems has been the inability to develop software that can handle more than 100,000 distributed generators and be implemented in real time. Caltech's software could allow millions of generators to self-manage through local sensing, computation, and communication. Taken together, localized algorithms can support certain global objectives, such as maintaining the balance of energy supply and demand, regulating voltage and frequency, and minimizing cost. An automated, grid-wide power control system would ease the integration of renewable energy sources like solar power into the grid by quickly transmitting power when it is created, eliminating the energy loss associated with the lack of renewable energy storage capacity of the grid.

Cornell University

GridControl: A Software Platform to Support the Smart Grid

Cornell is creating a new software platform for grid operators called GridControl that will utilize cloud computing to more efficiently control the grid. In a cloud computing system, there are minimal hardware and software demands on users. The user can tap into a network of computers that is housed elsewhere (the cloud) and the network runs computer applications for the user. The user only needs interface software to access all of the cloud's data resources, which can be as simple as a web browser. Cloud computing can reduce costs, facilitate innovation through sharing, empower users, and improve the overall reliability of a dispersed system. Cornell's GridControl will focus on 4 elements: delivering the state of the grid to users quickly and reliably; building networked, scalable grid-control software; tailoring services to emerging smart grid uses; and simulating smart grid behavior under various conditions.

Cree, Inc.

15 kV SiC IGBT Power Modules for Grid-Scale Power Conversion

Cree is developing silicon carbide (SiC) power transistors that are 50% more energy efficient than traditional transistors. Transistors act like a switch, controlling the electrical energy that flows through an electrical circuit. Most power transistors today use silicon semiconductors to conduct electricity. However, transistors with SiC semiconductors operate at much higher temperatures, as well as higher voltage and power levels than their silicon counterparts. SiC-based transistors are also smaller and require less cooling than those made with traditional silicon power technology. Cree's SiC transistors will enable electrical circuits to handle higher power levels more efficiently, and they will result in much smaller and lighter electrical devices and power converters. Cree, an established leader in SiC technology, has already released a commercially available SiC transistor that can operate at up to 1,200 volts. The company has also demonstrated a utility-scale SiC transistor that operates at up to 15,000 volts.

Dioxide Materials, Inc.

High Efficiency Alkaline Water Electrolyzers for Grid Scale Energy Storage

The team led by Dioxide Materials, Inc. will develop an alkaline water electrolyzer for an improved power-to-gas system. The team's electrochemical cells are composed of an anode, a cathode, and a membrane that allows anions to pass through, while being electrically insulating. High-conductivity anion exchange membranes are rare and often do not have the chemical or mechanical stability to withstand H2 production at elevated pressures. Therefore, the project is focused on developing an anion exchange membrane that is low-cost, is manufacturable in a scaleable process, and has sufficient conductivity, chemical stability, and mechanical strength. Moreover, by operating at alkaline instead of acidic conditions, the electrochemical cells do not need to use expensive precious metal catalysts, which most systems require to prevent corrosion. Dioxide Materials, Inc. estimates that operating under alkaline conditions could lead to a 10x lower electrolyzer stack cost due to higher current densities and lower material costs (i.e. non-precious metals). The system will be compatible with intermittent energy sources because it can operate at lower temperatures than competiting technologies, thus allowing startup times on the order of seconds.

Eaton Corporation

Synthetic Cloud-Based Regulation Reserve Distribution Management System (Secured)

Eaton will develop and validate a disruptive cloud-computing-based technology aimed at providing agile and robust synthetic regulating reserve services to the power grid. This approach separates the decision-making of synthetic regulating reserve services into two-levels to significantly reduce the computational complexity, thereby enabling large-scale coordinated control of a vast number of DERs and flexible load. The system-operator level estimates and predicts reserve capacity of the distribution network and decides on the appropriate economic incentives for DERs to participate in future services. At the local level, an energy node comprised of a cluster of DERs and flexible loads will automatically decide its own reserve services strategy that takes into account short-term net load and economic incentives. By splitting these decisions between the two levels, the solution does not require extensive communication or negotiation between the local DERs and the system operators in the cloud.

General Atomics

Magnetically Pulsed Hybrid Breaker for HVDC Power Distribution Protection

General Atomics is developing a direct current (DC) circuit breaker that could protect the grid from faults 100 times faster than its alternating current (AC) counterparts. Circuit breakers are critical elements in any electrical system. At the grid level, their main function is to isolate parts of the grid where a fault has occurred--such as a downed power line or a transformer explosion--from the rest of the system. DC circuit breakers must interrupt the system during a fault much faster than AC circuit breakers to prevent possible damage to cables, converters and other grid-level components. General Atomics' high-voltage DC circuit breaker would react in less than 1/1,000th of a second to interrupt current during a fault, preventing potential hazards to people and equipment.

General Electric

Resilient Multi-Terminal HVDC Networks with High-Voltage High-Frequency Electronics

GE is developing electricity transmission hardware that could connect distributed renewable energy sources, like wind farms, directly to the grid--eliminating the need to feed the energy generated through intermediate power conversion stations before they enter the grid. GE is using the advanced semiconductor material silicon carbide (SiC) to conduct electricity through its transmission hardware because SiC can operate at higher voltage levels than semiconductors made out of other materials. This high-voltage capability is important because electricity must be converted to high-voltage levels before it can be sent along the grid's network of transmission lines. Power companies do this because less electricity is lost along the lines when the voltage is high.

General Electric

Nanoclay Reinforced Ethylene-Propylene-Rubber for Low-Cost HVDC Cabling

GE is developing new, low-cost insulation for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) electricity transmission cables. The current material used to insulate HVDC transmission cables is very expensive and can account for as much as 1/3 of the total cost of a high-voltage transmission system. GE is embedding nanomaterials into specialty rubber to create its insulation. Not only are these materials less expensive than those used in conventional HVDC insulation, but also they will help suppress excess charge accumulation. The excess charge left behind on a cable poses a major challenge for high-voltage insulation--if it is not kept to a low level, it could ultimately lead the insulation to fail. GE's low-cost insulation is compatible with existing U.S. cable manufacturing processes, further enhancing its cost effectiveness.

General Electric

High-Voltage, High-Power Gas Tube Technology for HVDC Transmission

GE is developing a new gas tube switch that could significantly improve and lower the cost of utility-scale power conversion. A switch breaks an electrical circuit by interrupting the current or diverting it from one conductor to another. To date, solid state semiconductor switches have completely replaced gas tube switches in utility-scale power converters because they have provided lower cost, higher efficiency, and greater reliability. GE is using new materials and innovative designs to develop tubes that not only operate well in high-power conversion, but also perform better and cost less than non-tube electrical switches. A single gas tube switch could replace many semiconductor switches, resulting in more cost effective high power converters.

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