The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing awards of up to $7.5 million to support the research and development of innovative designs that will strengthen the resilience of the U.S. power grid. The selected projects will lead to the next-generation of transformers that can be shared and replaced more easily in the event of a failure, are smarter with embedded sensors and analytics, and are more secure to cyber-physical threats.
Under this funding through the Office of Electricity’s Transformer Resilience and Advanced Components (TRAC) Program and Resilient Distribution Systems (RDS) Program, research partnerships will create innovative designs and prototypes of large power transformers (LPTs) that are more flexible, adaptable, and secure, thereby increasing the resilience of the grid.
Transformers are fundamental to the grid, with essentially all electricity generated and delivered through these devices.
“A resilient, reliable, and secure power grid is vital to the nation’s security, economy, and the services that American communities and businesses depend on every day,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes. “Creating the next generation of these critical grid components will help ensure the nation’s critical energy infrastructure is secure and able to recover rapidly when disruptions occur.”
Building on the Administration’s commitment to strong national critical infrastructure as reemphasized throughout November during Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, this investment is the latest example of DOE’s commitment to ensuring secure, reliable, and resilient electricity. As outlined in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), it is the Department’s responsibility to protect or restore our nation’s defense critical electric infrastructure.
LPTs can weigh hundreds of tons, cost millions of dollars, and are typically custom-made with procurement lead times of one year or more. Generally tailored to customer specifications, these components are not readily interchangeable with each other, and their high costs prohibit extensive spare inventories.
In addition, many are approaching or exceeding their design lives, presenting an opportunity for next-generation transformers that can provide new capabilities needed in the grid of the future as well as reinvigorate domestic manufacturing.
A detailed list of the four projects selected for awards is available here. Final award amounts are subject to negotiation. More information about DOE’s emergency preparedness and coordinated response to disruptions to the energy sector, including physical and cyber-attacks, natural disasters, and man-made events is here.