The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected up to $36 million in research projects aimed at advancing solar energy’s role in strengthening the resilience of the nation’s electricity grid. In addition, the DOE has separately announced up to $130 million for new research to advance early-stage solar technologies.
According to the DOE, the grid resiliency projects will enable grid operators to rapidly detect physical and cyber-based abnormalities in the power system and use solar generation to recover quickly from power outages – in many cases, without human control.
The projects will develop new technologies, including “grid-forming” inverters, cyber-secure communications for critical grid components during emergency operations, smart sensors, and automated control schemes. The research will culminate in grid management tools and models that show how solar situational awareness can enhance power system resilience at critical infrastructure locations, such as hospitals or emergency response centers, explains the DOE.
The following grid resiliency research projects were selected:
- Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.): $3.6 million
- Kansas State University (Manhattan, Kan.): $2.9 million
- North Carolina State University (Raleigh, N.C.): $3 million
- Siemens Corp., Corporate Technology (Princeton, N.J.): $5 million
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.): $3.7 million
- University of Oklahoma (Norman, Okla.): $4.5 million
- University of South Florida (Tampa, Fla.): $1 million
The following research projects will conduct field validation of the developed technologies:
- Electric Power Research Institute Inc. (Knoxville, Tenn.) with multiple partners, including Pecan Street and Austin Energy: $5 million
- Electrical Distribution Design Inc. (Blacksburg, Va.), partnering with Pepco: $3 million
- University of Utah (Salt Lake City), partnering with PacificCorp: $4 million
Separately, under the $130 million funding announcement, projects will help to achieve affordable and reliable energy to enhance America’s economic growth and energy security, says the DOE.
This funding program targets five research areas: photovoltaics ($26 million), concentrating solar thermal power ($33 million), soft-costs reduction ($17 million), innovations in manufacturing ($10 million) and solar systems integration ($44 million). These projects are designed to make solar energy more affordable, reliable and secure, while working to boost domestic solar manufacturing, reduce red tape and make PV more resilient to cyberattacks.
“Solar is an integral part of the administration’s ‘all of the above’ energy strategy,” notes Rick Perry, DOE secretary.