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PNNL receives $5.73 million for integrated climate research and smart grid analysis

Enabling the most comprehensive modeling of climate and human systems

August 04, 2009 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has received more than $5 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to advance climate research and to further its ability to analyze "smart" power grids.

"These new initiatives will help the U.S. maintain its scientific leadership and economic competitiveness while creating new jobs," said Secretary Steven Chu. "The projects provide vital funding and new tools for research aimed at strengthening America's energy security and tackling some of science's toughest challenges."

According to Steven Ashby, PNNL's deputy director for science and technology, "These investments will enable PNNL to accelerate progress in climate and smart grid research and development. We intend to integrate climate and power grid analyses to provide a comprehensive view of the coupled energy-climate system. This more integrated approach will provide policy makers with the data and insights needed to make science-informed decisions."

New Computer for Integrated Assessment Climate Research

PNNL has received $4.86 million through the Recovery Act to build a dedicated, high-performance computer for integrated assessment climate research, to understand human and natural Earth system interactions and to create decision support tools for policy makers and the public.

The high-performance computer would enable scientists to combine computer models of human factors, such as economic, energy production and consumption, and land use data with models of climate to paint a complete picture of how climate is changing the world, and how people could respond.

The new machine will be built from commercially available components. The team is planning to incorporate a processing speed of at least 18 trillion calculations-per-second (18 teraflops) and disk space of 2 petabytes.

"The high-performance computer will be dedicated to the integrated assessment community, and PNNL has been a leader in developing these models," said Blaine Metting, PNNL's high-performance computing and integrated assessment project manager. "After we build it and construct software for it, we'll be able to do science that can't now be done in this field."

Advanced Power Grid Analysis

PNNL's electric infrastructure team also is benefitting from today's announcement. They received $867,000 to test ways of analyzing new "smart" data being received from the power grid, in order to more quickly and effectively determine abnormalities, and to identify potential areas of stress before they become a problem.

PNNL senior engineer Henry Huang, who recently received the 2009 IEEE Power & Energy Society Outstanding Young Engineer Award, will lead the project in conjunction with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

"The award will enable PNNL to continue testing complex mathematical equations to better understand the scientific data coming from the new, smarter grid," said Huang.

Both of these efforts are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science and part of ARRA funding that the Department announced earlier today.

To date, PNNL's total anticipated Recovery Act funding is nearly $133 million, including the funds announced today. In March, DOE's Office of Science announced that PNNL will receive $124 million for capital upgrades and instrumentation for the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory and the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, and for energy conservation projects on the PNNL campus in Richland. In addition, PNNL has received about $3 million for six other projects related to Hanford or other DOE sites.


The Joint Global Change Research Institute is a partnership between the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Maryland.

Tags: Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Production, Smart Grid

Interdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,300 staff and has an annual budget of about $950 million. It is managed by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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