December 11, 2019

PNNL to Lead New Grid Modernization Projects

Three projects valued at $15.5 million will improve grid situational awareness, resiliency, and cybersecurity

Power transmission line

PNNL will lead three new projects, valued at $15.5 million and funded by the Department of Energy, to make the nation’s power grid more resilient, flexible, and secure.

(Photo by Casey Horner |

PNNL will lead three new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded projects to make the nation’s power grid more resilient, flexible, and secure. In addition to the three projects it will lead, PNNL will collaborate with other national laboratories and industry partners on eight more grid modernization projects.

Through the Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI), DOE announced funding of approximately $80 million over three years to fund 23 projects across the country in the 2019 Grid Modernization Lab Call. The projects PNNL will lead focus on the following:

  • Solving scalability and usability challenges for advanced grid-modeling tools capable of comprehensively analyzing the interdependency of critical infrastructures (i.e., transmission, distribution, and data communications) so planners and operators can better understand how the power grid behaves as a system.
  • Enabling networked microgrids and their component distributed energy resources (DERs) to operate in an intelligent manner using collaborative autonomy concepts to improve grid resiliency.
  • Strengthening power grid cybersecurity by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to allow the bulk power system to perform intrusion-tolerant operations while improving detection of compromised systems.

Grid modernization central to PNNL mission

“Creating a more resilient power grid for the country by developing new tools and innovative technologies is a core objective for PNNL,” said Carl Imhoff, head of PNNL’s Electricity Infrastructure sector. “These new projects funded by DOE align with PNNL’s scientific capabilities and grid domain expertise, enabling us to partner with other national labs and industry to deliver meaningful impacts to grid resiliency, security, and flexibility.”

PNNL will collaborate with other national laboratories and with industry partners on eight additional projects that address key grid modernization challenges. These projects include grid architecture to support transactive energy; grid-interactive intelligent buildings; DER integration; using blockchain for enhanced grid security and energy management; and providing technical and educational support to public utility commissions and policymakers. For a complete list of the 2019 Grid Modernization Lab Call projects, click here.

Moving grid modernization forward

In 2016, DOE announced the first Grid Modernization Lab Call—a comprehensive $220 million, three-year plan to mobilize 88 projects across the country, bringing together DOE and the national laboratories with more than 100 companies, utilities, research organizations, state regulators, and regional grid operators. The teams were charged with pursuing critical research and development in advanced storage systems, clean energy integration, standards and test procedures, and other key grid modernization areas.

In 2017, DOE announced nearly $32 million over three years for seven new projects to develop and validate innovative approaches to enhancing the resilience of electricity distribution systems. These projects focused on the integration of DERs, advanced controls, grid architecture, and emerging grid technologies at a regional scale.

Based on government priorities, the 2019 Grid Modernization Lab Call focuses on the following six areas: resilience modeling; energy storage and system flexibility; advanced sensors and data analytics; institutional support and analysis; cybersecurity and physical security; and generation.

The GMI works across the DOE to create the modern grid of the future. The GMI reflects a collaborative partnership of five DOE offices including the Office of Fossil Energy, the Office of Nuclear Energy, the Office of Electricity, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response. GMI-funded projects are led by the 13 national laboratories that make up the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium.


About PNNL

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.