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US Government identifies grid solutions to cut costs and enhance reliability


The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the publication of its latest report, "Pathways to Commercial Liftoff," which focuses on unlocking the potential of advanced grid solutions. This report illustrates how commercially available advanced grid solutions —such as advanced conductors, dynamic line rating, and energy storage— can efficiently expand the current grid's capacity to accommodate peak demand growth of 20-100 GW.

Additionally, these technologies would enhance grid reliability, resilience, and affordability for consumers. The near-term adoption of commercially available yet underutilized advanced grid solutions could greatly enhance the resilience of domestic energy systems and support the Biden-Harris Administration's ambitious goal of achieving a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

The main discoveries of the report are:

Near-term solutions readily available: Advanced grid solutions offer utilities and regulators prompt ways to address pressing challenges like rising demand, reliability, and integrating new energy sources. These include advanced transmission technologies, grid enhancement tools, and automation solutions, serving as temporary measures while new infrastructure is developed.

Untapped potential of existing grid: Implementing these technologies could increase the current grid's capacity by 20–100 GW of peak demand per installation, improving system reliability, resilience, and affordability. This aligns with the projected 91 GW peak demand growth anticipated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) by December 2023.

Cost-effective and swift deployment: Most of these solutions come at a fraction of the cost of conventional alternatives and can be deployed relatively quickly, leveraging existing infrastructure.

Attainable liftoff within three to five years: Achieving liftoff hinges on comprehensive valuation and integration of advanced solutions into core grid investment, planning, and operations by utilities and regulators. Pursuing 6-12 large-scale operational deployments across a diverse range of utility contexts can mitigate risks associated with widespread adoption and establish repeatable operational and investment models. Importantly, these deployments could be accomplished without raising costs for household ratepayers.

Government commitment

President Biden's Investing in America initiative allocates over $13.1 billion to upgrade the nation's transmission and distribution grid. This funding supports the deployment of advanced technologies through the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program, enhancing grid flexibility and resilience. The first round of GRIP funding, totaling nearly $3.5 billion, backs 58 projects across 44 states, catalyzing over $8 billion in total investments. These projects include initiatives focusing on grid-enhancing technologies such as dynamic line rating and distributed energy resource management.

A second round of funding aims to integrate grid communication systems with operations to enhance resilience and reduce outages. By leveraging public and private capital, these initiatives accelerate the deployment of advanced grid solutions, facilitating integration at speed and scale.

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