The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $ 45 million in research to advance the integration of solar hardware and systems, including creating a consortium to develop control technologies for a modernized power grid.
While solar power accounts for 3% of US electricity, that amount is projected to reach 18% by 2050 – which will require increasing solar capacity by hundreds of gigawatts. For this reason, DOE is looking for new solutions that can reliably feed large amounts of solar energy into the grid and ensure that American-made hardware is used in these installations.
“The country’s solar energy consumption is increasing,” said Energy Minister Dan Brouillette. “Funding innovative research and development projects ensures that the technologies we use benefit the US economy and provide reliable power to all Americans.”
The Office of Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) funding program for system integration and hardware incubator for fiscal year 2021 will drive solar forward in two major areas: system integration and hardware incubator.
Today’s network uses electricity from several energy sources and has become digitized and complex. The reliable and secure connection of solar energy to the power grid – be it as photovoltaics (PV) on a supply scale or as a distributed PV system on a smaller scale for households and companies – is a challenge that the following two subject areas should face. The new research roadmap for grid-forming inverters, which was developed in cooperation with three national DOE laboratories and two universities, will support research in the further development of these technologies. US universities, corporations, nonprofits, and state, local, and tribal governments are encouraged to apply under this theme. DOE is looking for innovative projects in the following areas:
- Research Consortium for Grid-Building Technologies – $ 25 million, 1 award: Networking technologies automatically coordinate inverter-based and other resources to start and maintain electricity in the grid. SETO and the Bureau of Wind Energy Technologies will support the creation of a consortium to advance research and industry collaboration on grid-building technologies and ensure they improve the operation of power systems.
- Integration of solar resources behind the meter into utility data systems – $ 6 million, 2-3 awards: Integrated communication systems that process sensor measurements from distributed energy sources, especially from solar PV systems behind the meter, are required to supply energy to utility companies. This leads to better visibility of the PV system and more flexible and reliable control and operation of the entire power supply system. Selected projects will receive funding between $ 2 million and $ 3 million.
In 2019, less than half of the US $ 9 billion spent on PV hardware was spent on domestic hardware. The manufacturing of solar hardware in the United States creates jobs and economic activity, and promotes energy security. This theme aims to increase US solar production by bringing innovative technologies to market faster. Only US for-profit companies can apply under this topic. DOE is looking for innovative projects in the following areas:
- Product Development – $ 6 Million, 6 to 12 Awards: The aim of this subject area is to bring new technologies and manufacturing processes into the prototype phase and to develop and validate a path to commercial success. Selected projects will receive funding between $ 500,000 and $ 1.5 million.
- Product Development and Demonstration – $ 8 Million, 1-4 Awards: In this subject area, products or solutions are tested and demonstrated on a pilot scale. Examples include manufacturing processes for solar hardware with high volume or high throughput; Manufacture of a large number of devices for field tests and validations; and demonstration of a system such as a microgrid that pilot tested new hardware. Selected projects will receive funding between $ 1.5 million and $ 3 million.
Register to learn more about this funding opportunity in a webinar on January 6, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. (CET). Register for tomorrow’s SETO quarterly stakeholder webinar on December 17 at 2 p.m. ET. Visit the SETO website for more information. Learn more about the DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office.
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