Evolving grids and those of the future will look far different than today's electrical grid, which is built on a one-way delivery model: power generation, transmission and distribution in response to user demand.
Numerous factors are driving these changes, including more renewable energy integration, use of smaller-scale, widely distributed energy resources, and the need for increased reliability and resilience. Modern systems will blur the boundaries between suppliers and consumers — resulting in two-way power flow and demand that increasingly adapts to available supply.
Not only do grids experience variability in loads (demand for electricity), but renewable sources such as wind are intermittent and can surge or drop off without notice. A number of advances will be critical for making the future grid reliable and resilient. For example "shock absorbers" such as energy storage systems and dynamic communication will help minimize brownouts or power surges.
Idaho National Laboratory has the expertise and infrastructure to test numerous aspects of modern energy systems.