- The U.S. Department of Energy has earmarked up to $30 million supporting new projects that will help integrate more solar energy onto the grid, funding 13 projects as part of its Grid Modernization Initiative.
- Projects will receive funding through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's SunShot Initiative, which aims to accelerate solar adoption and integration.
- The largest project is PPL Electric Utilities' distributed system platform in Allentown, PA, which will assist with monitoring, controlling, and optimizing a high penetration of solar generation. DOE is contributing $3.3 million, about half the project's budget.
The baker's dozen of solar projects tapped to receive DOE funding range in size and development, from PPL's 500-person pilot to algorithmic work at Northeastern University. The announcements follow a busy few months for the SunShot initiative, which announced more than $100 million in funding last fall and boosted its goals in November.
The funding, says SunShot Director Charlie Gay, will help "lower the cost and complexity of integrating solar with the electric grid. ... These projects give grid operators the tools to manage a modern electric grid.”
Projects funded in this round include a "novel control scheme" that provides system-wide monitoring, developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and development of an open-source advanced distribution management system that encompasses distribution circuits and distributed energy resource management, at Sandia National Laboratories.
Northeastern's project develops and tests a "comprehensive state estimation algorithm" for combined monitoring of transmission and distribution systems.
This is SunShot's first funding announcement since the change in Presidential administrations. The program recently advanced its goals for areas with average U.S. climate, and now aims to reduce the average cost of utility-scale PV to $0.03/kWh, commercial PV to $0.04/kWh and residential PV to $0.05/kWh by 2030. In areas with above-average solar potential, targeted prices are even lower.
However, recent reports have said that President Trump's team outlined a series of budget cuts that includes eliminating key offices at the DOE, including the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which oversees the SunShot initiative.