- The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new $25 million offering through its Grid Modernization Initiative. The Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) program will fund efforts to accelerate grid integration of solar.
- ENERGISE will support the development of data-driven, easily-scaled prototype software and hardware that better integrates sensing, communication, and data analytics into utility distribution systems. Such tools would help utilities monitor and control distributed energy resources (DERs) in real time.
- The program is expected to fund 10 to 15 solutions developed through vendor-utility partnerships. Their real-world performance and value will be demonstrated in field-tests by the utility partners. New tools that prove themselves will be made available to utilities and grid operators.
U.S. installed solar capacity increased 23-fold from 2008 to 2015, from 1.2 GW to an estimated 27.4 GW and, spurred in part by DOE SunShot Initiative programs, which have funded critical research and development. The industry celebrated its one-millionth distributed generation (DG) system going online in early May.
This increased variable distributed generation presents new challenges to grid operators they did not face from a system dominated by baseload coal and nuclear generation before 2008. As DER proliferation increases, new innovations in systems integration technology like those sought by the ENERGISE program will become increasingly important to control DERs on the system and balance variable renewables with existing fossil generation.
To develop those technologies, the ENERGISE initiative sets out two "topic areas." The first focuses on near-term projects to develop commercially-ready grid planning and operations solutions that enable the addition of solar at 50% of the peak distribution system load by 2020.
The second topic area, aimed at longer-term solutions, will develop technologies to enable solar at 100% of the peak distribution load by 2030. One year of field demonstration is required for Topic 1 solutions, and "large scale simulation" will be required for Topic 2.
Managed by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), SunShot was launched in 2011 with the goal of making unsubsidized solar generation cost competitive with traditional energy sources by 2020. The Grid Modernization Initiative was developed to bring together DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, its Office of Energy Policy And Strategic Analysis, and EERE to solve the challenges of integrating variable renewables, traditional base load generation, and energy storage.
The first deadline for concept papers under the ENERGISE program is June 17, with full applications due in August. DOE will host an informational webinar on the program on May 19.