DOE Creates New Industry-Wide Consortium to Strengthen Grid Infrastructure

Aug 16, 2021

by ASME.org

DOE recently awarded $45 million to advance solar manufacturing and grid technologies. The funding will establish a new consortium that aims to integrate clean energy sources more seamlessly into the national grid. The Biden administration has actively supported the development and integration of renewable energy technologies into the nation’s energy portfolio. This new initiative helps to ensure that as new technologies develop, they can be utilized and deployed effectively. The program supports the Biden administration’s goal of reducing energy sector carbon emissions by 2035.
 
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, who recently spoke to the ASME community during the inaugural ASME Policy Impact event, commented on the recent $45 million award, stating, “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 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.”
 
According to DOE, the selected projects will: 
  • Create a public-private consortium on grid integration technology (Award amount: $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 better data about rooftop solar power generation to utility providers (Award amount: $6 million) – Two projects led by GridBright, Inc. (Alamo, California) and the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) will develop sensor hardware and system designs that will help utility providers 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: $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. 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, and a project to develop a low-cost device to help prevent solar system electrical fires. 
For more information on how DOE plans to pursue grid integration, watch this short video.

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