The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced US$45 million for projects that will help integrate clean energy sources onto the grid, supporting the Biden Administration’s goal of a decarbonized power sector by 2035. As solar and other renewable energy sources are rapidly deployed throughout the country, these projects are developing new technologies and capabilities to bolster the resilience of the US electric grid. The funding, which also creates a new US$25 million consortium, will advance the domestic manufacturing of solar energy and electric grid technologies.
“To flip the switch on climate change, we need a grid that’s chock full of renewable energy that’s also cheap and accessible,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The universities, small businesses, and national lab behind these projects are building the critical components of America’s future grid, making it more resilient on our way to a 100% clean power system.”
The selected projects will:
- Create a public-private consortium on grid integration technology (Award Amount: US$25 million) – The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Washington, and the Electric Power Research Institute will co-lead an industry-wide consortium to advance research on grid-forming inverters — an emerging technology that allows solar and other inverter-based energy sources to restart the grid without a spinning turbine, typically an oil or coal-fired power plant. This consortium will include national labs, universities, and minority-serving institutions, equipment manufacturers, utilities, and bulk power system operators.
- Provide utilities better data about rooftop solar power generation (Award Amount: US$6 million) – Two projects led by GridBright Inc. and the University of Pittsburgh will develop sensor hardware and system designs that will help utilities understand how much renewable energy is being generated by residential and commercial solar photovoltaics (PV), strengthening reliability of the electricity grid.
- Advance the commercialization of American-made solar innovations (Award Amount: US$14 million) – Nine solar hardware and manufacturing projects will receive DOE funding to accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies that can lower the cost of solar technologies and help to integrate solar electricity into the nation’s energy grid. Among the projects include a new solar heat system to dry out sewage and convert it to fertilizer, which would help decarbonize the agricultural, wastewater, and industrial sectors, as well as a project to develop a low-cost device to help prevent solar system electrical fires.
The projects are part of the DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding program of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EERE’s mission is to accelerate the research, development, demonstration, and deployment of technologies and solutions to equitably transition America to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050.