Argonne Lab develops software to help plan smart grid

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new software tool called the Energy Zones (EZ) Mapping Tool that will help EISPC members identify geographic areas suitable for the development of clean energy resources, which are renewables, natural gas, coal carbon storage and nuclear. Certain forms of energy storage are also included.

The power grid in the Eastern U.S. — known as the Eastern Interconnection — consists of transmission lines that stretch for thousands of miles, from east of the Rocky Mountains all the way to the Atlantic Seaboard. In all, 39 states and Washington, D.C. are linked by the Eastern Interconnection.

To foster collaboration and better coordinate the development of this network, representatives from these states have formed an organization known as the Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council, or EISPC.

The mapping tool does not identify sites for new individual plants or clean energy “farms,” but instead seeks to give a “birds-eye” view of the landscape for clean energy electricity production.

The mapping tool includes an extensive mapping library of energy resource and related information, interactive models to locate areas with high suitability for clean power generation, a variety of reports that can be run for user-specified regions, and a clean energy policy and incentives database. In all, the mapping tool database includes a total of 29 different clean energy technologies.

State energy planning organizations and regulators could use the mapping tool to identify suitable clean energy resource areas and potentially designate them as “clean energy zones” to promote investment by the energy industry in developing clean energy in those areas, or use the information for other state policymaking considerations.

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