As solar power and wind power have come down in cost and have become more widespread technologies their impact on the grid has become more worrisome as intermittent resources and the need to balance energy on the grid. The solution, energy storage. That’s been expensive but those technologies are coming down in cost too. To help speed adoption of the technologies the Department of Energy announced that it will help fund six solar energy storage projects with a total of $18 million.
“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 coming years,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson. “The Energy Department is leading the way in the development and deployment of affordable, reliable grid integration technologies, including energy storage, intelligent inverters, load management 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.”
The six new projects will take place across the U.S. from Hawaii to Pittsburgh. The project at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh will receive $1 million to develop and demonstrate a distributed control system to integrate smart inverters, energy storage, and commercial off-the-shelf home automation controllers and smart thermostats. While the project in Hawaii with the Hawaiian Electric Co. will receive $2.4 million to demonstrate enhanced utility visibility and control of the distribution system by enabling the proliferation of distributed renewable energy technologies, DOE said. Hawaii already is installing battery systems to integrate into their grid for solar power.
Austin Energy will receive the largest amount of funding, $4.3 million, to create a distributed energy resource management platform. The platform will be designed to be adaptable to any region and market structure. It will help establish a template to maximize penetration of distributed photovoltaics.
Chicago’s Commonwealth Edison Co. will use $4 million to integrate photovoltaics with battery storage systems and smart inverters within a microgrid community. Knoxville, TN’s Electric Power Research Institute will receive $3.1 million to design, develop, and demonstrate integration of energy storage and load management with solar. In Boston the Fraunhofer USA Center for Sustainable Energy Systems will receive $3.5 million to integrate solar, storage, and facility load management using the SunDial Global Scheduler system.
The projects are part of both the SunShot Initiative and the DOE’s Grid Modernization Initiative. They will increase and show that solar-generated electricity can be dispatched at any time to meet consumer electricity needs. They will integrate with internet capable inverters, smart buildings, smart appliances, and utility communication and control systems. “Ultimately, the solutions developed under this effort will enable the sustainable and holistic integration of hundreds of gigawatts of additional solar energy onto the electric grid throughout the United States,” DOE said.