DOE Announces Grid Modernization Initiative, Solar + Storage Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released its new Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan, a comprehensive blueprint to modernize the U.S. electrical power grid, and announced it will award up to $220 million in funding for a consortium of the DOE’s national laboratories and partners to carry out related research and development.

Awarded over a period of three years, the funding is intended to support the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC) - including 14 national laboratories as well as industry, academia, and state and local government agency partners - in the development of advanced storage systems, clean energy integration, standards and test procedures, in addition to other key modernization areas.

According to the DOE, the Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program builds on concepts from its recently released Quadrennial Energy Review and Quadrennial Technology Review.

“Modernizing the U.S. electrical grid is essential to reducing carbon emissions, creating safeguards against attacks on our infrastructure, and keeping the lights on,” says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) says it will strongly support this effort, bringing its range of experts and resources together to participate in 48 of the 88 newly awarded projects.

“The Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium is a new way of efficiently leveraging the strengths and capabilities of America’s national laboratories to deploy new concepts and technologies that will make the grid cleaner, more productive and more secure,” says Bryan Hannegan, NREL’s associate laboratory director and co-chair of the GMLC. “The projects announced today are an important first step toward achieving the DOE vision of a modernized grid for the nation.”

The DOE has already allocated $18 million in funding from the initiative for six new solar power projects across the U.S.

“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 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:


ATI, Affordable Solar Bring 24 MW To N.M.

Affordable Solar, a solar engineering, procurement and construction firm, recently partnered with Array Technologies Inc. (ATI), a solar tracking technology provider, to bring two solar projects totaling 24 MW to the Santa Fe and Albuquerque areas of New Mexico.

The companies say that the Santa Fe Solar Energy Center and the Santolina Solar Energy Center, each with a capacity of approximately 12 MW, are now complete. The projects feature more than 78,000 Jinko modules mounted on ATI’s DuraTrak HZ v3 single-axis trackers and will provide sustainable power to the Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM).

“ATI’s unique tracker design easily accommodates changes in topography and helped achieve PNM’s goal of minimizing environmental impact by avoiding any site grading,” says Kevin Bassalleck, president of Affordable Solar’s commercial division.

PNM developed the projects as part of the replacement plan for closing two coal-fired units at the San Juan Generating Station and, also, to respond to state-mandated renewable portfolio standards.


3 Phases Renewables Helps Santa Monica Achieve 100% Renewable Power

Clean energy provider 3 Phases Renewables has signed a contract with the City of Santa Monica, located in Los Angeles County, to supply 100% renewable power for all of the city’s municipal operations.

3 Phases Renewables says the renewable energy mix that will now power Santa Monica will mostly comprise solar and wind generated in California.

Santa Monica was one of the first cities in the nation to adopt a comprehensive sustainability plan, consistently aiming to increase the use of renewable and clean distributed generation sources. In the coming years, Santa Monica plans to expand its renewable energy purchasing to benefit all electric utility customers in the city.

This contract covers more than 500 city-owned, direct-access eligible accounts and approximately 26,000 MWh of annual consumption.

By purchasing renewable power via direct access, the city avoids nearly 18,000 metric tons of carbon.

The contract can be renewed for up to four additional years and is consistent with the goals established in Santa Monica’s Sustainable City Plan.


17 MW Coming To Indiana Naval Base

Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy says it plans to build a 17 MW solar facility at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Crane, a naval base located 40 miles southwest of Bloomington, Ind.

Duke Energy Indiana will own and operate the facility, pending the approval of a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The company expects the project to reach commercial service this year.

The project will feature approximately 76,000 solar panels on nearly 145 acres in the southeast portion of the naval base, making it one of the largest solar facilities in the state. The company says it will be grid-connected at a Duke Energy Indiana-owned substation on NSA Crane property.

Upon commissioning, the generated power will be available to Duke Energy Indiana customers and the Navy will continue to purchase power from Duke Energy Indiana.

Duke Energy says this is the second solar project it’s building in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Navy: The company’s 13 MW solar facility at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina was announced in 2015.

In a separate transaction, Duke Energy Indiana signed agreements with solar developers to purchase up to 20 MW of solar power at four locations in Indiana. Two of these facilities are in service now, while the remaining two are expected to enter into service early this year.


Scatec Solar Completes Utah’s First Utility-Scale Solar Plant

Norway-based energy provider Scatec Solar has completed a 104 MW PV solar plant in Parowan, Utah, that will more than double the state’s current solar footprint. Named the Utah Red Hills Renewable Park, this plant is now fully operational.

Scatec says that the project, which was under construction for less than a year, is built on 632 acres of privately owned land and features more than 340,000 PV solar modules on a single-axis tracking system. Swinterton Renewable Energy led the engineering, procurement and construction efforts for the facility, which interconnects to an existing transmission line.

Scatec expects the plant will generate approximately 210 million kWh of electricity annually - the equivalent of the electric power used by roughly 18,500 homes per year. The output will be fed into the grid under a 20-year power purchase agreement with PacifiCorp’s Rocky Mountain Power.

Google and Scatec will own the plant through a joint partnership, while Scatec will be responsible for managing and operating the plant.

Projects & Contracts

DOE Announces Grid Modernization Initiative, Solar + Storage Projects




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