Washington, DC - The Energy Department’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $11 million in funding for seven transformational projects that will develop realistic, open-access models and data repositories to aid in improving the U.S. electric grid.

ARPA-E’s new program, Generating Realistic Information for the Development of Distribution and Transmission Algorithms (GRID DATA), follows the release of DOE’s comprehensive new Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan announced yesterday by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in Miami, Forida, which is part of an ongoing effort that reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to improving the resiliency, reliability, and security of the nation’s electricity delivery system.

With recent advances in computing technology and optimization software, researchers have developed new algorithms, the computations that serve as the basis to develop software, to solve how power can be most efficiently transmitted and distributed on the electric grid. However, existing models that test these algorithms are dated, inaccurate or incomplete; meanwhile, models that use real data from the electric grid cannot be shared publicly due to security and privacy challenges. The GRID DATA program seeks to overcome these limitations by creating new models and data repositories that can be used by members of the research community to develop accurate tests and evaluations for emerging optimization technologies to plan for the future of the electric grid.

“Improving the resiliency and reliability of the U.S. electric grid is vital to our nation’s energy future,” said ARPA-E Director Dr. Ellen D. Williams. “Developing new power system models will help to move our nation towards a more reliable, safe and secure grid of the future.”

Five of the GRID DATA projects will develop detailed simulation models for development and testing of transformational power system optimization and control algorithms to enable grid flexibility, improve energy efficiency and substantially reduce the cost of integrating renewable generation technologies onto the grid. These projects will create three different types of grid models (transmission, distribution and hybrid power systems) that include details on electricity generation facilities and customer demand in order to build realistic and open-access power systems. The project teams intend to partner with Independent System Operators (ISOs) or utilities to generate new models based on real data while other projects will create realistic but artificial models.

Two of the GRID DATA project teams will create interactive and publicly available repositories to store the power system models, as well as other models developed by the engineering community. These collaborative repositories will encourage a more accurate and comprehensive evaluation of emerging grid optimization tools, which will improve grid reliability and security while improving efficiency.