DOE Funds Six New Solar Projects For Grid Modernization Program


As part of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) recently announced Grid Modernization Initiative to improve the reliability and security of the nation’s electric grid, the DOE has allocated $18 million in funding for six new solar power projects across the U.S.

According to the DOE, these projects will enable the development and demonstration of integrated, scalable and cost-effective solar technologies that incorporate energy storage so as to power American homes in all circumstances, including at night and in cloudy conditions.

"Energy storage, solar PV and smart grid technologies experienced incredible growth in 2015, and we expect they will play an increasingly important role in reaching the nation’s climate and clean energy goals in the years ahead," says David Danielson, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

"The Energy Department is leading the way in the development and deployment of affordable, reliable grid modernization technologies, including energy storage, intelligent inverters, load management technologies and innovative PV solutions that can boost the resiliency of our nation’s electric grid while allowing us to deploy greater amounts of solar and other renewables," Danielson says.

The six new integrated PV and energy storage projects will utilize Internet-capable inverters and will work with smart buildings, smart appliances, and utility communication and control systems. These projects are either led by a utility company or include a utility company as a key partner, and the teams will conduct at least a one-year field demonstration of their technologies.

The DOE says that, ultimately, this effort will enable the sustainable and holistic integration of hundreds of gigawatts of solar energy onto the electric grid.

The funding will be utilized as follows:

  • Austin Energy (Austin, Texas) will receive $4.3 million to create a distributed energy resource management platform that can adapt to any region and market structure and will maximize the penetration of distributed solar PV;
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pa.) will receive $1 million to develop and demonstrate a distributed, agent-based control system to integrate smart inverters, energy storage, and commercial off-the-shelf home automation controllers and smart thermostats;
  • Commonwealth Edison Co. (Chicago) will receive $4 million to utilize smart inverters for solar PV and battery storage systems, working in concert with other components within a microgrid community;
  • The Electric Power Research Institute (Knoxville, Tenn.) will receive $3.1 million to work with five utilities to design and develop technology for end-to-end grid integration of energy storage and load management with PV generation;
  • Fraunhofer USA (Boston) will receive $3.5 million to develop a scalable, integrated PV, storage and facility load management solution through the SunDial Global Scheduler system; and
  • The Hawaiian Electric Co. (Honolulu) will receive $2.4 million to show the system-level benefits of enhanced utility visibility and control of the distribution system by enabling the proliferation of distributed renewable energy technologies.
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