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  • Writer's pictureTom Kenny

Grid Overhaul with Underground Lines SBIR/STTR $40M Available - Concept Paper due 5/9/23

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GOPHURRS (Grid Overhaul with Proactive, High-Speed Undergrounding for Reliability, Resilience, and Security) intends to fund a portfolio of new technologies based on bold and unconventional ideas that will transform the construction of underground medium voltage (MV, 5 – 46 kV) power distribution grids (e.g., primary feeders and laterals) in urban and suburban areas and reduce the cost of undergrounding electric power grids by at least 50% in order to improve the overall reliability, resilience, and security of power infrastructure in the United States.

SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index) and SAIFI (System Average Interruption Frequency Index) are two commonly used reliability metrics. In the United States today, SAIDI and SAIFI range approximately 5-8 hours and 1.5 times per customer, respectively, which is responsible for an economic cost to U.S. electricity consumers of $79 billion/year. Undergrounding powerlines is a proven way of improving the system reliability for both transmission and distribution grids as indicated in stark differences in SAIDI and SAIFI of overhead systems and underground systems (Figure 1). Despite the reliability benefits, the cost of burying distribution powerlines is significant, up to five to ten times that of overhead distribution lines, making it the major barrier to making such grid investment decisions. Furthermore, today's undergrounding processes pose safety concerns, such as damage to other buried utilities during construction, occupational safety and health hazards associated with tasks performed in a manhole, and lengthy surface disruptions and traffic detours affecting the safety of surrounding communities, making undergrounding a difficult project to undertake.

The GOPHURRS program aims to reduce the time and cost required to underground by a factor of at least two when compared to traditional trenching-based methods. More specifically, GOPHURRS technologies will shift the paradigm of undergrounding from digging to drilling in order to leave the surface nearly untouched. In order to achieve this goal, GOPHURRS focuses on developing transformative technologies capable of achieving autonomous/trenchless utility installation, such as automated and rapid subsurface drilling along the terrain and concurrent conduit installation, while also avoiding hidden underground obstacles (e.g., existing infrastructure, geologic anomalies) with advanced look-ahead sensors (Figure 2). In addition, GOPHURRS aims to reduce the life cycle cost of an underground power system by developing reliable cable joint designs and installation systems, as cable joints are typically the first to fail during operation. The GOPHURRS program could reduce costs, increase speed, and improve the reliability and safety of undergrounding operations and the surrounding communities by developing such technologies focused on automation, damage prevention, and error elimination.


Small Business

Award Details:

Total Amount Available: $40M

Maximum Award: $4,241,580

Minimum Award: $295,924

Submission Details:

CP Deadline: 5/9/23

Full Application: TBD

Grant Management Associates has years of experience in helping applicants apply for opportunities like this one. Contact us today for a consultation.

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