Four key measures to enhance US grid resilience


A new report released by Rocky Mountain Institute assesses current approaches being implemented to ensure the resilience of the US grid network.

The report Reimagining Grid Resilience provides recommendations for policymakers, regulators, and industry participants on how to optimise the resilience of the country’s energy sector.

The ongoing shifts in the utility industry do not present a threat to grid security, but rather an extraordinary opportunity to reimagine grid resilience, according to the study.

However, current approaches to ensuring grid security are now poorly suited to emerging and catastrophic threats facing the US grid.

In addition, current approaches are also incongruous with the ongoing technological transition shaping the energy industry.

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Four principles to reimagine the fundamental approach to grid resilience highlighted in the report include:

  • Address, don’t ignore, linear dependence: Current resilience approaches focus on reinforcing single elements of the grid value chain; emerging opportunities that leverage DERs address multiple failure modes with single investments.
  • Leverage the market, don’t fight it: Common resilience interventions tend to lag the cost-effective opportunities presented by emerging technologies; tailored solutions can take advantage of market forces to lower the cost and improve the efficacy of resilience strategies.
  • Prioritise critical loads: Typical approaches to energy resilience take an all-or-nothing approach to maintaining or restoring grid services; new tools can enable utilities to ensure that the highest-value, most critical electricity services are kept online or restored the fastest during contingencies.
  • Maximise economic value from resilience investments: Most current approaches to grid resilience serve only as insurance and provide no value outside of contingency events. In contrast, emerging solutions leveraging renewable and distributed energy can provide economic value during normal operations, in addition to mitigating the impact of outages.

Mark Dyson, a principal in Rocky Mountain Institute’s electricity practice, said: “At their current pace of capital investment, electric utilities will probably invest approximately $1 trillion in the power grid between 2020 and 2030.

“Given the magnitude of long-lived assets under consideration, there is a societal, economic, and national security imperative to invest in our grid in a way that promotes resilience by design, economically and from the bottom up, and not as a cost-adding afterthought years later. Our research suggests that the ongoing shifts in the utility industry do not present a threat to grid security, but rather an extraordinary opportunity to reimagine grid resilience.”

Read more about the report.