PG&E reveals new R&D initiative, nearly 70 challenges to building better energy system and service

Published on June 28, 2023 by Chris Galford

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In a new research and development strategy report, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) recently revealed a new initiative meant to foster innovation and proactively identify emerging technologies for piloting or deployment and commercialization as it works to modernize its system.

“PG&E has a rich history of accelerating innovation, and we are more committed than ever to working with the best and the brightest to advance our clean energy future and solve some of the most challenging issues facing the energy system today,” Jason Glickman, executive vice president of engineering, planning & strategy for PG&E, said. “Our new R&D Strategy Initiative provides insights needed for working more collaboratively and effectively with innovators to advance a wide range of bold, innovative technologies that will enhance the customer experience, improve grid resilience, and ensure that a healthy environment and safe, carbon-neutral energy system is the reality for all Californians.”

These technologies will be utilized for both electric and gas system updates to improve items including supply and load management, integrated grid planning, electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid applications, wildfire mitigation, undergrounding and gas system decarbonization. To date, the company noted that nearly 70 priority energy system challenges exist that would require R&D to achieve, in terms of rebuilding trust and customer service, developing a decarbonized yet reliable energy system and instituting strong foundational capabilities.

Collectively, these efforts fit under the company’s True North Strategy, a 10-year forward push. As it advances, PG&E has highlighted six areas of focus: expansion of load management capabilities, upgrading and optimizing transmission and distribution upgrades, cost cutting for electric vehicle and charging installation upgrades, wildfire mitigation, quicker and more efficient undergrounding efforts, and decarbonization of the gas system.

In the short-term, PG&E will also host an innovation summit in July that will use this recent R&D strategy report to engage with stakeholders on the current and future needs for the energy system. Additionally, PG&E will host the Innovation Pitch Fest 2023 in September, to follow a technology and solution application and selection process that will follow the July event. There, select applicants will be able to pitch technologies or solutions to PG&E management, decision makers and subject matter experts, which PG&E could turn to for future partnerships, grant opportunities and portfolio investment.