Rapidly Viable and Sustained Grid

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OPEN 2018
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Project Term:
07/01/2019 - 05/31/2023

Critical Need:

The electric grid is facing many challenges, including aging infrastructure with significant upgrade costs and catastrophic weather events occurring with alarming frequency and severity. While the grid is being restored, responsive power solutions are urgently needed to keep critical infrastructure (CI) online. After initial recovery, sustaining reliable power requires additional services to the grid for increasingly longer periods. Following a catastrophic event, this scenario frequently plays out: backup sources are available to support CIs for only short durations, neighborhoods of CIs are physically compromised, and the grid itself is weak, intermittently reliable or absent. In spite of these dire circumstances, little effort has been made to develop a comprehensive framework or strategy for a rapidly viable and sustainable grid.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The University of Minnesota (UMN) will develop a net-load management framework that rapidly identifies neighborhood-units to support grid infrastructure and enable ultrafast coordinated management. UMN’s project will rethink power recovery from near blackout conditions with a focus on rapid energization and maximizing power duration. This project’s approach could fundamentally change the way large contingencies are managed. It would transition power systems and critical infrastructure from fragile to robust using intelligent, self-organizing control for coordinating resources, enhancing resiliency and increasing the use of renewable energy sources. The communication and control layer coupled with rapid decision-making methods for managing local sources and loads will coordinate power resources and leverage renewable energy. This framework will support the grid in contingencies such as failure of aging infrastructure or catastrophic weather events.

Potential Impact:

The University of Minnesota’s proposal will improve the way grid infrastructure is managed after a grid contingency, transitioning from a fragile system dependent on centralized resources to a resilient, intelligent, self-organizing system capable of optimally coordinating resources, supporting critical community infrastructure, and better leveraging sustainable energy sources.


A more efficient and reliable grid would be more resilient to potential disruptions.


The proposed technology will change the way large contingencies are managed by using intelligent, self-organizing control to coordinate resources, enhance resiliency, and employ sustainable energy sources.


With time, system efficiencies and the use of renewables increase, reducing fossil fuel demand and fuel prices and resulting in more stable electricity rates.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Mario Garcia-Sanz
Project Contact:
Donatello Materassi
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


National Renewable Energy Laboratory
University of Alaska
University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

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