DOE Funds $18 Million In Six ‘After-Sunset & Cloudy’ Solar Energy Storage Solutions Projects

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In January, the US Department of Energy announced $18 million in funding for six new projects. The goal? Enabling the development of integrated, scalable, and cost-effective solar technologies that incorporate energy storage to power American homes after the sun sets or when clouds are overhead.

Sunshot shines-graphic-rotator

The funding is part of the DOE’s Grid Modernization Initiative, which is targeting improvements to “the resiliency, reliability and security of the nation’s electrical power grid.”

The Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV (SHINES) program develops and demonstrates integrated photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage solutions that are scalable, secure, reliable, and cost-effective.

The projects will work to dramatically increase solar-generated electricity that can be dispatched at any time – day or night – to meet consumer electricity needs while ensuring the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid. Achieving the SHINES goals is a critical step in the pathway towards enabling hundreds of gigawatts of solar to be integrated reliably and cost-effectively onto the electric grid. SHINES is part of the Energy Department’s Grid Modernization Initiative, which aims to accelerate the strategic modernization of the U.S. electric power grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources, while ensuring a resilient energy system combining energy storage with central and distributed generation.

“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.

Danielson added these projects can lead the way in deploying “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 ‘After-Sunset & Cloudy’ Solar Energy Storage Solutions Projects

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

  • Austin Energy (Austin, Texas): $4.3 million to create a distributed energy resource management platform that is adaptable to any region and market structure, aiming to establish a template that can help to maximize the penetration of distributed solar PV.
  • Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania): $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 Company (Chicago, Illinois): $4 million to utilize smart inverters for solar PV and battery storage systems, working synergistically with other components within a microgrid community.
  • Electric Power Research Institute (Knoxville, Tennessee): $3.1 million to work with five utilities to design, develop, and demonstrate technology for end-to-end grid integration of energy storage and load management with PV generation.
  • Fraunhofer USA Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (Boston, Massachusetts): $3.5 million to develop and demonstrate a scalable, integrated PV, storage, and facility load management solution through the SunDial Global Scheduler system.
  • Hawaiian Electric Company (Honolulu, Hawaii): $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.

As we have anticipated, energy storage stands as a fundamental component for the 2016 solar energy industry. According to the press announcement, this effort aims to accelerate the strategic modernization of the US electric power grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources.

Image via SHINES

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Glenn Meyers

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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