Department of Energy Grant Boosts Cornell’s Power Systems Research

Cornell has been chosen to play a leading role in the push to update America’s crumbling infrastructure. Patricia A. Hoffman, the Assistant Secretary at the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability — a branch of the Department of Energy — announced in late August that Cornell was one of five universities chosen to receive a grant for research into how to  mend America’s beleaguered power systems.

An aspect of the Department of Energy’s Grid Modernization Initiative — which, on top of striving to make baseline improvements to the nation’s energy grid also seeks to make the system more open to renewable energy sources and energy efficient structures — the grant totals $1.8 million to be split between the schools. Alison Kennedy, senior advisor at the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, summed up the GMI as “a comprehensive DOE effort to help shape the future of our nation’s electric grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources with energy storage and smart buildings, while ensuring that the grid is resilient and secure to withstand growing cyber security and climate challenges.”

As stated in 2015’s Quadrennial Technology Review — a report on the nation’s energy needs produced by the DOE — recent natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy have made the need for an updated, more reliable and more responsive energy grid all the more prescience. Kennedy pointed to this need and numerous other problems currently facing America’s power systems.

“Factors include a changing generation mix, evolving consumer needs, and growing recognition of expectations for a resilient and responsive grid in face of natural, or man-made, events,” he said. He also mentioned other issues pointed out in the QTR, including the need for new manners of detecting failures in the system, as well as the adoption of smart grid technologies.