Pathways to Commercial Liftoff

The pathway to:
Innovative Grid Deployment Liftoff

The Innovative Grid Deployment Liftoff report is focused on identifying pathways to accelerate deployment of key commercially available but underutilized advanced grid solutions on the existing transmission and distribution system to address near-term hotspots and modernize the grid to prepare for a wide range of energy futures.


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Review the Grid One-Pager here.

These solutions can help quickly respond to accelerating grid pressures – including the need to cost-effectively expand transmission and distribution capacity to support the rapid demand growth many regions are seeing, enhance system reliability and resilience, and support integration of utility-scale and distributed clean energy resources.  These solutions can serve as a bridge to address near-term capacity needs as critically needed new grid infrastructure continues to be built out.

Twenty advanced grid solutions are covered across four categories:

Deploying these advanced grid solutions available today can cost effectively increase the capacity of the existing grid to support 20-100 GW of incremental peak demand when installed individually…

Note: Chart shows capacity benefits of deploying individual technologies overnight to their full techno-economic potential on the existing grid. There is significant additional capacity potential when installed in strategic combinations.

... while improving grid reliability, resilience, affordability, and sustainability.


Technologies like ADMS, advanced sensors, and digital substations can improve reliability by increasing situational awareness to reduce restoration time, which allows operators to locate faults and power outages more quickly. FLISR and smart reclosers can automatically reconfigure the system to minimize the number of customers that experience an interruption on the distribution system.


Technologies like point-to point HVDC systems can provide contingency power and reduce restoration time for common disruptions improve system resilience. Technologies like power factor correction and advanced transformers can reducing strain on the system and increasing flexibility.


Technologies like VPPs, DERMS, and energy storage can defer and/or avoid some of the cost of rebuilding or adding new transmission and distribution infrastructure. Technologies like DLR, VVO, APFC, topology optimization, and advanced conductors can lower customer energy costs by reducing congestion and improving system efficiency. If deployed nationwide, these solutions can help defer an estimated $5-35B in transmission and distribution infrastructure costs over the next five years.


Technologies like DLR and topology optimization can reduce curtailment of existing renewable generation and enable the interconnection of new clean energy generation. Technologies like VVO, VPPs, and advanced conductors can reduce emissions from fossil fuel energy generation through improved system efficiency.


Liftoff will be achieved when utilities and regulators comprehensively value and integrate these advanced grid solutions as part of core grid investment, planning, and operations. 

Achieving liftoff within three to five years is possible by deploying 6-12 large operational, no regrets deployments across a diverse set of utility contexts for each advanced grid technology while pursuing the four liftoff priorities.

1. Build and share the bank of industry evidence for the technology value proposition:

Building widespread understanding and confidence in advanced technologies as viable alternatives to conventional solutions is critical to ensuring broader acceptance among utilities and regulators in core grid processes. Outcomes from these deployments should be transparently shared across industry players and regulators – including lessons learned from successes and failures – to build industry familiarity and confidence in these technologies’ capabilities, operational impacts, and value propositions.

Grid operators need to know how to procure, install, operate, and maintain advanced technologies. Key processes underpinning greater scale deployment include standardized and interoperable technical specifications, installation and inspection checklists, workforce partnerships and training, and operational guidance and best practices. Utility peer-sharing reduces information asymmetry between jurisdictions and service territories and accelerates overall uptake by reducing barriers to adoption.

During system planning, grid operators must be able to effectively evaluate and prioritize advanced technology solutions for investment (including against conventional alternatives). To prudently oversee utility proposals, regulators need to have visibility into and understand the cost-effectiveness of these technologies and how they should be strategically pursued. This requires a robust understanding of and methods for comprehensively evaluating the benefits and costs of these technologies, including benefits that are expected to occur but may be hard to value in traditional frameworks.

Grid operators and utilities are looking for certainty on how solutions will be paid for and, for profit motivated operators, if they can generate sufficient financial returns to warrant investment. For regulated utilities, incentivizing adoption requires that regulators lead in aligning utility compensation models with the value generated from advanced grid solutions (e.g., performance-based regulation, capitalizing some operational expenses). New mechanisms can help allocate costs in ways that better align with beneficiaries and equitably share benefits, such as shared savings mechanisms.

Advanced grid solutions can start being deployed today without driving higher costs for ratepayers.

  • Example: Using just one-fifth of the current investment in conventional transmission and distribution asset replacement to instead upgrade assets with advanced grid solutions could nearly double industry investment in advanced grid solutions. This could drive greater grid impacts without incremental costs to ratepayers.                 

As an illustrative example, shifting 20% of the existing $10B investment in conventional transmission asset replacement towards an advanced transmission technology upgrade like advanced power flow control (APFC) would enable five times more APFC deployments, which could be spread across a larger portion of the grid to unlock more grid capacity while alleviating strain on existing assets and help defer upgrades. In this example, the net impact could be a 1.8x impact on transmission capacity without additional cost to ratepayers.

  • Example: New data center customers or bulk power generators seeking to interconnect could cover the costs of advanced grid solutions during grid upgrades to interconnect
  • Example: Grid Deployment Office’s Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIP) Program and Transmission Facilitation Program can help support deployment of advanced grid solutions.
  • Example: Loan Program Office’s Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment Loan Program (1706) can help providing financing for projects that retool, repower, repurpose, or replace Energy Infrastructure that has ceased operations, including for advanced grid solutions.
  • Example: DOE’s State Technical Assistance Program can provide high-impact technical assistance and resources for state regulators and policymakers through a variety of support options, including—if requested—support for advanced grid solutions.

See report for additional detail on available federal funding, technical assistance, and technology resources.

Industry stakeholders can start acting today—taking advantage of unprecedented federal investment and policy incentives—to accelerate deployment of advanced grid solutions that unlock meaningful near-term value and long-term compounding benefits.

Stakeholders Potential priority actions to pursue today (not exhaustive)
Grid Operators & Utilities
  • Deploy “no regrets” solutions to address grid hotspots and support liftoff
  • Transparently share deployment outcomes and best practices
  • Develop grid modernization strategies using emerging best practices
Regulators & governance boards
  • Revamp grid modernization strategies and planning processes by adopting current best practices
  • Require consideration of advanced grid solutions in current planning and investment processess
  • Align utility incentive structures with the value of advanced grid solutions
  • Develop efficient cost recovery mechanisms
State & Federal Policymakers
  • Collaborate with regulators to ensure advanced grid solutions are considered in current processes
  • Establish clear policy goals to inform grid investments at the state level
  • Coordinate multi-stakeholder grid modernization collaborations
Solution Providers
  • Proactively articulate and value technology benefits
  • Share performance risk for proven but sub-scale solutions
  • Integrate advanced grid solutions into core services

The U.S. Department of Energy, in partnership with other federal, state, and local agencies, has tools to address challenges to commercial liftoff and is committed to working with communities and the private sector to build the nation’s clean energy infrastructure in a way that meets the country’s climate, economic, and environmental justice imperatives.