EPRI reflects on the year gone by

EPRI Staff

The past 12 months have been positively electric for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). From working with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a national EV charging infrastructure blueprint to speaking at COP26 about numerous EPRI-led decarbonization research initiatives, it has been a whirlwind of a year.

Let’s hop in our electric-powered DeLorean and take a trip back to revisit 2021.

Among EPRI’s highlights for the year:

In April, the U.S. government announced plans to reduce U.S.-economy-wide carbon emissions by around 50 percent by 2030. Because other sectors, such as transportation, buildings, and industry, could largely reduce carbon emissions through electrification, the power sector will play a crucial role in achieving the administration’s 2030 economy-wide goal. On Earth Day, the government announced that DOE, in partnership with EPRI, will develop a national EV charging infrastructure blueprint, including fast charging and grid interaction. The blueprint would assess needs in terms of connectivity, communication, and protocols from the utility down to the vehicle, to support electrification of the full vehicle fleet. EPRI also informed consumers through a new, interactive Electric Vehicle Consumer Guide, providing a searchable database for battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by make, model, electric range, and MSRP.
Also, in April, EPRI announced its resource adequacy initiative to help ensure the ongoing ability to meet electricity demand by better anticipating and assessing risks to power supply resources due to extreme weather and other hazards. The project brings together grid operators, utilities, researchers, and other key stakeholders from across the electric power industry to accelerate the evolution of resource adequacy processes and tools. 
In June, EPRI published a preview of an important analysis, “Rethinking Deployment Scenarios to Enable Large-Scale, Demand-Driven Non-Electricity Markets for Advanced Reactors.” The preview and forthcoming analysis examine four possible deployment scenarios that reimagine nuclear’s role in meeting global energy needs into the future. These scenarios will include shipyard-based manufacturing and floating nuclear facilities, as well as hydrogen production at large scale. A full analysis is scheduled to be published shortly.
In September, EPRI issued five Grand Challenges to accelerate the adoption of artificial intelligence technologies in high-value areas: advancing grid-interactive smart communities; lessening environmental impacts; strengthening energy system resiliency; enabling intelligent and autonomous power plants; and enhancing cybersecurity. The future power system will involve millions of variable, distributed resources working in concert to reliably meet customers’ energy needs. AI holds the potential to greatly improve system operations, flexibly integrate distributed energy resources, and improve time-consuming tasks such as inspections. 
Continued progress on the Low-Carbon Resources Initiative (LCRI), launched in 2020 with EPRI and Gas Technology Institute. LCRI is focused on accelerating development and demonstration of low- and zero-carbon energy technologies. LCRI has nearly 50 industry sponsors and in October, kicked off its first demonstration project with the New York Power Authority, General Electric and Airgas to test blending renewable hydrogen with natural gas in a turbine at the Brentwood Power Station. The project could be used as a blueprint throughout New York — which aims to reduce emissions 85% below 1990 levels by 2050 — and the country, helping to further decarbonize the energy sector.
Speaking at COP26 in Glasgow in November, EPRI announced it was partnering with the World Economic Forum and Accenture to accelerate the transition of industrial clusters towards net zero. Industrial clusters are geographic regions comprised of co-located energy supply and demand companies. Industrial clusters account for approximately 15% to 20% of global CO2 emissions, making them an attractive target for impactful emissions reductions. The initiative aims to have more than 100 industrial clusters engaged by 2024, and four clusters from Australia, the UK and Spain have already joined, with a collective CO2 emissions reduction profile equivalent to that of Denmark.

EPRI accomplished these and many projects in 2021, but we expect an even busier 2022. It’s going to take all sectors of the economy working together to meet collective decarbonization targets. EPRI will help to lead the way to ensure the clean energy transition is equitable and sustainable, while keeping electricity accessible, affordable, and reliable for consumers in the U.S. and around the world.