The US Department of Energy has set aside $45 million in funding to ensure more solar energy capacity is integrated with the grid for reliability and energy decarbonisation.
The funding will be used for research, development, and deployment of new technologies that are capable of accelerating and simplifying the switch to renewable energy as calls intensify to decarbonise whilst ensuring resilience.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, said: “To flip the switch on climate change, we need a grid that’s chock full of renewable energy that’s also cheap and accessible.”
The funding will be used to help improve the country’s manufacturing capabilities of solar panels.
A $25 million consortium, to be led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Washington, and the Electric Power Research Institute, will be responsible for the development and testing of technologies to integrate solar with the grid. The consortium will include universities and minority-serving institutions, equipment manufacturers, utilities, and bulk power system operators.
Up to $14 million in funding will be awarded to some 9 solar hardware and manufacturing projects for research, development, and commercialisation of solutions that can lower the cost of solar. The projects will also focus on integration with the grid.
The University of Pittsburgh and technology firm GridBright will co-lead projects designed to help utility companies better understand and manage solar energy generated from consumer rooftops. The two projects will receive $6 million from the DoE.
US Congressman Mike Doyle, adds: “Adding more renewable energy to the grid is key to fighting climate change, but it has its challenges.”
Although renewable energy is the US’ largest source of electricity, utilities are facing challenges to manage these distributed energy resources. In addition, the fluctuating nature of renewables is posing challenges for utilities to use clean energy to provide baseload power.
With renewable energy deployment set to expand in the next 15 years in the US, technologies to be developed using the funding will play a key role in helping to simplify the energy transition and enable the US to achieve its 2050 net-zero target.
US Congressman John Yarmuth, reiterated: “Investing in clean energy technologies like solar not only helps us combat climate change, it strengthens our energy and manufacturing sectors, creating good jobs while building the economy of the future.”
The projects are part of DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2021 Systems Integration and Hardware Incubator funding programme of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).