As part of the Energy Department’s ongoing efforts to modernize the nation’s grid through the Grid Modernization Initiative, the Energy Department has announced $25 million in available funding through an effort called Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) to help software developers, solar companies, and utilities accelerate the integration of solar energy into the grid.
Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased 23-fold—from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 gigawatts in 2015, with one million systems now in operation. One of the key challenges to further solar deployment is the ability to integrate distributed generation sources like rooftop solar panels into the grid while balancing that generation with traditional utility generation to keep reliable and cost-effective power flowing to homes and businesses. Today’s funding opportunity announcement will help support companies working to meet that challenge.
ENERGISE specifically seeks to develop software and hardware platforms for utility distribution system planning and operations that integrate sensing, communication, and data analytics. These hardware and software solutions will help utilities manage solar and other distributed energy resources on the grid and will be data-driven, easily scaled-up from prototypes, and capable of real-time monitoring and control.
“Our ongoing grid modernization work will help accelerate the widespread adoption of the clean energy resources that will define our low-carbon future. This funding will help that mission by supporting industry partners working to integrate, store, and deploy solar energy throughout our electric grid,” said Lynn Orr, Energy Department Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “In doing so, we hope to drive down costs and encourage even more American homeowners and businesses to install solar systems.”
Through industry and utility partnerships, the expected 10-15 solutions developed with this new funding will be field-tested by utilities to demonstrate their performance and value in real-world operating environments. These live demonstrations and research findings will provide valuable new tools for utilities and grid operators across the nation.
This funding program builds upon current and past research in systems integration technologies that support the widespread deployment of solar energy while maintaining the reliability of the electricity grid. The full funding opportunity announcement, including application requirements, can be found on Energy.gov.
The SunShot Initiative, which is managed by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), will oversee the projects associated with this funding opportunity. SunShot is a collaborative national effort launched in 2011 that aggressively drives innovation to make solar energy cost competitive – without subsidies – with traditional energy sources before the end of the decade. The Grid Modernization Initiative is a comprehensive effort involving DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and EERE to help shape the future of our nation’s grid and solve the challenges of integrating conventional and renewable sources with energy storage while ensuring that the grid is resilient and secure to withstand growing cybersecurity and climate challenges.