Smart Grid R&D
Full development of the “Smart Grid” will necessitate the integration of the nation’s electric delivery system with advanced communication and control technologies. It will incorporate renewable and clean energy generation, new end-use technologies, utility-scale power electronic devices, and dynamically monitored and responsive delivery system through the use of open architecture, standards-compliant technology, and advanced digital monitoring devices. Anticipated benefits of the smart grid include reduction of carbon emissions, reduced peak loads, increased energy efficiency, integration of variable renewable energy resources, and accommodation of various generation and storage options.
ORNL’s Distributed Energy Communications and Controls (DECC) Laboratory conducts grid R&D using an ORNL-owned campus distribution system. This unique facility is developing novel methods to regulate voltage locally and to help utilities satisfy reactive reserve requirements. DECC researchers are also investigating and quantifying temperature rise in smart meters under maximum current conditions and have developed a dynamic model of the Catalina Island power system for studying the impacts of high penetration of renewable energy resources. In addition, ORNL has been a leader in promoting load as a reliability resource, working with both industrial and commercial partners to demonstrate the use of load as a way to participate in the regulation and spinning reserve markets.
The Lab’s Powerline Conductor Accelerated Testing (PCAT) facility has been specifically designed for testing overhead power lines at high temperatures and currents after being installed and tensioned to manufacturer specifications, and the Lab’s Cable Test Facility tests power equipment under normal and fault current conditions. Furthermore, ORNL is a leader in power electronics R&D and is working on high-power devices to improve reliability and reduce costs at its National Transportation Research Center (NTRC).
Advanced grid materials including power electronics and energy storage devices are also under development. ORNL researchers have access to world-class materials R&D capabilities and expertise at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. Furthermore, grid reliability is being promoted through the development of superhydrophobic coatings for exposed high voltage insulators and power lines to reduce the loss of power due to icing, corrosion, and deterioration.
ORNL’s high-performance computing capabilities provide the means to develop grid visualization, modeling, and analysis capabilities that will be necessary to achieve real-time, dynamic monitoring and pricing and to ensure grid viability. ORNL’s Center for Computational Science houses six of the world’s TOP500 supercomputers and EVEREST, a 35 megapixel PowerWall. ORNL’s VERDE technology has already been used to predict power outages due to severe weather events and, subsequently, to assist in restoring normal restoring operations. ORNL researchers are also implementing GridEye frequency monitors to provide wide-area diagnostic information about the grid at the transmission and distribution level.
Increased reliability on computing resources requires enhanced cyber security measures to avoid malicious attacks on the nation’s energy infrastructure. ORNL’s Acceleration Project for the Smart Grid (ASAP-SG) project is a high-profile activity that will improve the ability for users to approach, understand, and implement the guidance for securing smart grid systems.
- Distributed Energy Communications and Controls (DECC) Laboratory
Fact Sheet (PDF 9.27MB) | Website
- Poweline Conductor Accelerated Testing (PCAT) Facility
Fact Sheet (PDF 761KB) | Details (PDF 57KB)
Highlight (PDF 207KB)
- VERDE Fact Sheet (PDF 341KB) | Video (WMV 81.21MB)
- Improving the Grid with Superconductivity Technology
Fact Sheet (PDF 520KB)
- Superhydrophobic Materials Fact Sheet (PDF 219KB)
- ORNL Power Electronics R&D Website