The Grid Modernization Survey results are in

Researchers from some of the largest, best-known grid modernization testing facilities in North America are investigating technologies that will move generation, intelligence and control to the grid edge. That’s a key finding of SGIP’s just published 2016 Grid Modernization Test Bed Survey.

This is the second year that SGIP has conducted its survey, which was initiated to foster industry collaboration by identifying technology under study at various facilities and pinpointing where partnerships are welcome.

“Given the complexity of grid challenges, industry players must work in tandem to develop viable solutions,” said Sharon Allan, president and CEO of SGIP. “This survey spotlights some of the amazing work researchers are conducting and also details how various organizations forge alliances to advance grid technology development.”

About the survey

Smart grid testbeds are a critical resource for developing and testing new technologies in a controlled and economic fashion. They help our industry avoid the consequences of deploying unproven technology at scale by a utility or grid operator. SGIP’s Grid Modernization Test Bed survey was created to foster collaboration among industry players who are engaged in such research and testing. What follows is a high-level look at who is doing what in this realm of study. This is not an inclusive look at all the research underway, but it does include some of the biggest, most important grid modernization sites in North America.

Key findings: It’s all about the grid edge
Testbed researchers named distributed generation and control as predominant areas of focus when responding to SGIP’s 2016 Grid Modernization Test Bed Survey.

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The survey collected data from some of the largest, best-known testing facilities in the nation. Nearly half – 49% of the researchers who participated – were from national labs. Academics made up 17% of the 41 test beds queried, industry labs accounted for 19% and utilities provided 15% of the sample.

Although grid-edge control itself was not a focus area choice available to survey respondents, intelligent electronic devices, such as microprocessor-based controllers on things like circuit breakers or capacitor banks, was. Two-thirds of survey respondents had IEDs under study.

Distributed generation also is a leading focus area. More than half – 56% – of survey respondents name it as an investigative polestar. Interoperability grabs the attention of nearly half of the researchers – 49%. Cybersecurity is the other big winner. It’s a focus area for 41% of the investigators.

Research concentrations vary by type of institution. For instance, when it comes to interoperability, 40% of national labs say it’s a key study area, versus 57% of academics, one-third of utilities and 75% of equipment vendors, a.k.a. industry labs. More than half of respondents at three lab types cited distributed generation as a focus. Universities led the pack with 71%, followed by utilities (66%) and industry labs (62%), while only 45% of national labs named DG as a focus. However, 15% of national labs named transmission issues – a write-in option – as their key area of study.

The full 13-page survey is here:

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