DOE Announces $42 Million Initiative Enhancing America’s Power Grid

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a substantial investment of $42 million across 15 ground-breaking Research and Development (R&D) projects spanning 11 states. These projects aim to revolutionize the reliability, resiliency, and affordability of the national power grid by leveraging cutting-edge semiconductor technologies. Funded under the DOE’s ‘Unlocking Lasting Transformative Resiliency Advances by Faster Actuation of power Semiconductor Technologies’ (ULTRAFAST) project, these initiatives are set to introduce a new era in grid operations, effectively preventing outages while aligning with President Biden’s vision of modernizing America’s electric grid and achieving a net-zero economy by 2050.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said “Modernizing our nation’s aging power grid is critical to strengthening our national and energy security, and absolutely essential to reaching President Biden’s ambitious goal of a net-zero economy by 2050. This new investment will support project teams across the country as they develop the innovative technologies we need to strengthen our grid security and bring reliable clean electricity to more families and businesses—all while combatting the climate crisis.”

Under the guidance of the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the announced teams will accelerate the Biden-Harris Administration’s aims of decarbonization. Their efforts will fortify the grid’s security and reliability, facilitating increased integration of solar, wind, and other renewable energies. The highlighted projects include:

GaNify (State College, PA)
will create an optically isolated, power-integrated component to facilitate improved regulation of power electronics converters, enhancing the efficiency and dependability of the grid.
(Award amount: $3,060,000)

Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA) will develop a novel semiconductor switching device from wide-bandgap III-Nitride material to improve grid control, resilience, and reliability.
(Award amount: $2,700,000)

Great Lakes Crystal Technologies (East Lansing, MI) will create a diamond semiconductor transistor to bolster the necessary control infrastructure for an energy grid accommodating increased distributed generation sources and fluctuating loads.
(Award amount: $2,301,538)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA) will engineer an optically-controlled semiconductor transistor to empower forthcoming grid control systems in handling elevated voltage and current levels beyond those of current state-of-the-art devices.
(Award amount: $3,000,000)

NextWatt (Hoffman Estates, IL) will create an ultrawide-bandgap optical-triggered device to fulfil the requirement for swift protection in solid-state transformers. This technology shows promise in transforming substations and renewable energy systems.
(Award amount: $2,268,750)

Opcondys (Manteca, CA) will create a grid protection device controlled by light to mitigate abrupt destructive surges on the grid, including those triggered by lightning strikes and electromagnetic pulses. (Award amount: $3,178,977)

RTX Technology Research Center (East Hartford, CT) will develop semiconductor switching modules activated by wireless radio frequency signals, aiming to diminish losses and enhance the management of power electronics converters, benefiting the grid and diverse applications.
(Award amount: $2,500,000)

Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) will create an innovative solid-state surge arrester to safeguard the grid against rapid electromagnetic pulses that pose a threat to the grid’s performance and reliability.
(Award amount: $2,560,000)

Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX) will design a photoconductive semiconductor switching device using cutting-edge ultrawide-bandgap materials, aiming to enhance grid control capabilities.
(Award amount: $3,070,735)

University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR) will work on creating a high-power semiconductor module with heterogeneous integration for use in both the electric power grid and electrified transportation applications.
(Award amount: $2,931,177)

University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA) will create ultrawide-bandgap switching devices capable of attaining higher voltages and speeds compared to current high-end technologies. This advancement will enable the implementation of more intricate control methods for the grid.
(Award amount: $3,122,356)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, IL) will develop diamond semiconductor switching devices triggered by light, paving the way for ground-breaking advancements in protecting the electricity grid.
(Award amount: $2,982,311)

University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) will develop an integrated module featuring wide-bandgap power devices with optical control and sensing to improve electric grid control, resilience, and reliability.
(Award amount: $2,240,309)

University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI) will create a semiconductor switching device triggered by light to decrease power losses and enhance performance in comparison to existing technologies
(Award amount: $2,990,321)

University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, TN) will develop scalable semiconductor switching modules triggered by light, integrated with sensing capabilities, aiming to protect the grid and various power distribution systems.
(Award amount: $2,759,821)

ARPA-E advances high-impact clean energy technologies across a wide range of technical areas. Find out more about these efforts, and complete descriptions of the projects for the teams announced on the ARPA-E website. 

At WeEngage, we are proud to support companies and individuals who share our commitment to a greener and more sustainable future. Get in touch today to find out how you can be a part of it.

About the author

Thomas Heywood

Thomas Heywood

Hey, I'm Tom! I'm one of the founders of the WeEngage Group! We're always open to suggestions and keen to hear feedback so do get in touch if there's anything, in particular, you want us to write about. I hope you enjoy our content & happy learning!

Like what you've read? Signup to our newsletter!