Energy Department Announces $18 Million to Develop Solar Energy Storage Solutions

These projects will enable the development and demonstration 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.

The Department of Energy has announced $18 million in funding for six new projects across the United States. These projects will enable the development and demonstration 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.

Solutions for modernizing the grid and enhancing storage will be developed as part of the Department's Grid Modernization Initiative under the SunShot Initiative. These efforts will 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 electrical grid. The projects announced today will aim to create an affordable pathway toward the efficient and sustainable integration of solar energy on the nation’s electrical grid in much larger amounts than currently possible.

“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 Department’s six new integrated PV and energy storage projects will utilize Internet capable inverters and will work in conjunction 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. 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.

  • Austin Energy (Austin, Texas) will receive $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, 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 Company (Chicago) will receive $4 million to utilize smart inverters for solar PV and battery storage systems, working synergistically 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, 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) will receive $3.5 million to develop and demonstrate a scalable, integrated PV, storage, and facility load management solution through the SunDial Global Scheduler system.
     
  • The Hawaiian Electric Company (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.

In addition to supporting the solar energy affordability goals laid out under the Obama Administration’s SunShot Initiative, the projects announced today are also part of the Energy Department’s Grid Modernization Initiative. This effort 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.

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