The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) may consider a grid system that sources locally produced energy for regions, otherwise known as energysheds, as indicated by its latest request for information (RFI). 

Unlike an energyshed, the current energy transmission system can carry voltage produced at a power plant to its final destination over about 300 miles. Many cities are powered by energy sourced from a different state.

The energyshed proposal can be utilized to hasten the Biden Administration’s mission toward  a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 and to “transition America to a net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions economy by 2050. It all starts with grid resource planning,” said DOE Assistant Secretary Kelly Speakes-Backman of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). 

The energyshed concept is relatively new, according to the DOE. In May 2019, researchers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) published a paper proposing to geographically match regions’ energy demands with its supply and production.

The ORNL researchers, along with the DOE, propose that the energyshed management system could improve communities’ efficiency and decrease their dependence on externally sourced energy.

An energyshed, the EERE said, “encourages communities to consider where their energy comes from geographically, as well as the resources used to generate it.” Consequently, urban areas may seek to readjust their energy mix to renewable sources. 

The EERE is to lead the search for information on an energyshed management system and its definition, concept, application, implications, benefits, disadvantages, as well as how it can support renewable energy, an energy storage system and locally derived resources. 

EERE noted that information received in response to the RFI would further the DOE’s considerations for a funding opportunity to arrange an energyshed management system. 

Late last month, the agency issued a similar RFI on the impacts of electric vehicles (EV) hitting the charging station on a transitioning grid. The RFI issued by the DOE’s Vehicle Technology’s Office and the Office of Electricity’s Advanced Grid Research and Development Division would address grid standards required as more EVs hit the road.While President Biden’s American Jobs Plan boasts a $15 billion fund to add 500,000 EV charging stations across the nation, “it is important to examine the potential impact on grid reliability and resiliency as a result of that integration,” the EERE said in the RFI.