The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $45 million for projects that will help seamlessly integrate clean energy sources onto the grid. The funding, which also creates a new $25 million consortium, will advance the domestic manufacturing of solar energy and electric grid technologies.
“To flip the switch on climate change, we need a grid that’s chock full of renewable energy that’s also cheap and accessible,” says Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The universities, small businesses and national lab behind these projects are building the critical components of America’s future grid, making it more resilient on our way to a 100% clean power system.”
The selected projects will create a public-private consortium on grid integration technology with an award amount of $25 million. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Washington and the Electric Power Research Institute will co-lead an industry-wide consortium to advance research on grid-forming inverters. The emerging technology allows solar and other inverter-based energy sources to restart the grid without a spinning turbine, typically an oil or coal-fired power plant. This consortium will include national labs, universities and minority serving institutions, equipment manufacturers, utilities, and bulk power system operators.
Other projects will provide utilities better data about rooftop solar power generation with an award amount of $6 million. Two projects led by GridBright Inc. and the University of Pittsburgh will develop sensor hardware and system designs to help utilities understand how much renewable energy is being generated by residential and commercial solar photovoltaics.
An award amount of $14 million has been allocated to advance the commercialization of American-made solar innovations. Nine solar hardware and manufacturing projects will receive DOE funding to accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies that can lower the cost of solar technologies and help to integrate solar electricity into the nation’s energy grid. The projects include a new solar heat system to dry out sewage and convert it to fertilizer, which would help decarbonize the agricultural, wastewater and industrial sectors. Another project will develop a low-cost device to help prevent solar system electrical fires.
The projects are part of DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding program of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.