Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced over $11 million in funding awards for the advancement of solar energy grid integration systems (SEGIS). The funds will be divvied up between five projects which will take form through partnerships between private firms, universities, utilities, the DOE and Sandia National Laboratories. Five million dollars worth of funding will come from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).
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The SEGIS program is an ongoing effort by the DOE and its partners to ensure that the national electric grid can handle the growing amount of solar integration. More specifically, the five projects currently up for awards include:
- Optimizing interconnections on the full range of PV modules by way of innovative system integrations
- Improving reliability and resiliency so that high levels of PV integration may be adapted
- Lowering manufacturing costs through improved energy storage and inverter designs
- Creating inverters with energy storage and two-way communication between the solar system and utility
- Solving technical hurdles preventing higher PV penetration into larger electrical systems.
The companies receiving direct funding are PVPowered of Oregon, Petra Solar and Princeton Power of New Jersey, Apollo Solar in Connecticut, and the Florida Solar Energy Center. Every one of these companies will be working in partnership with several other companies or organizations.
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The idea behind this direct funding is a good one. There is no doubt that our national electric grid will need vast improvements to handle the energy loads of the future, even without any addition of renewable energy. In the name of cleaner energy, energy efficiency and safe, reliable electricity, our grid will have to get better and smarter.
This and other similar DOE funding is an attempt to get that ball rolling, and it cannot get started fast enough. In fact, such investments in grid improvement–especially those with solar and other renewables as a focus–may prove to be the most worthwhile incentives the feds create. Because what good is a renewable energy grid if no one can get the power?
Source: US Department of Energy