DOE offers $26 million to demonstrate that grid can run on clean energy


The Biden-Harris Administration, through the US Department of Energy (DOE), announced $26 million to fund up to ten projects that will demonstrate that America’s electricity grid can run reliably on renewables.

The $26 million is funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Solar and Wind Grid Services and Reliability Demonstration Program, and it intends to show not just that a mix of solar, wind, energy storage, and other clean distributed energy resources can provide enough energy, but that grid services, which maintain voltage and frequency stability, can ensure grid reliability. Demonstrating that a grid fully powered by inverter-based resources can reliably provide these services is a necessary step in the clean energy transition.

Projects funded under this program will support the development of controls and methods for inverter-based clean energy resources to provide the same grid services as traditional generation. The intended goal is to increase the reliability of energy systems, which will help meet the Biden administration’s goals for 100% clean electricity by 2030.

“Americans do not have to choose between a clean grid and a reliable one as we move forward towards our goals of a net-zero economy by 2050,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, DOE is proving that transitioning to solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources can keep the lights on without service interruptions, while creating good paying jobs.”

Today’s mix of clean energy technologies presents a new challenge to grid operators, and while new tools have been developed that enable grid operators to manage this complex network, DOE is supporting the demonstration of these tools at a broader scale to increase their adoption and build trust among grid operators. Today the potential for grid disruptions is real, including threats such as cyberattack, extreme weather events and wildfires. The demonstration program should prove that clean energy sources are able to support the grid during normal as well as emergency situations.

DOE is encouraging academic institutions, private companies, nonprofits, state and local governments, and tribal nations to apply and form diverse teams that include representation from entities such as historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions, and community-based organizations.   Projects will also demonstrate how a clean energy grid prevents blackouts by quickly identifying and responding to faults.  The testing will take place at plants of at least 10 MW in size from a mix of solar, wind, or other generation or storage technology,

To support grid enhancement and modernization, DOE is deploying more than $20 billion in federal financing tools, including through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s new $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program, $3 billion expansion of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, and more than $10 billion in grants for States, Tribes, and utilities to enhance grid resilience and prevent power outages, and through existing tools, including the more than $3 billion Western Area Power Administration Transmission Infrastructure Program, and a number of loan guarantee programs through the Loan Programs Office.

An informational webinar will be held on August 17 at 1 p.m. ET. Mandatory concept papers are due by September 1 at 5 p.m. ET.

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