DOE Wants Solar to Play a More Critical Role in the Grid

As the nation’s energy mix goes through profound changes, the grid that delivers that power has to keep up.

This month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a major funding opportunity for research projects that will help the grid more reliably deliver renewable energy without disruptions from external threats.

The Advanced Systems Integration for Solar Technologies (ASSIST): Situational Awareness and Resilient Solutions for Critical Infrastructure funding opportunity will strengthen the integration of solar on the electricity grid, especially at what are considered “critical infrastructure sites.”

The DOE defines critical infrastructure as essential services that are vital to the economy, security and health of the nation.

The DOE notes that, as the volume of solar generation coming online increases at a daily rate, grid operators need the tools and technologies to ensure the resiliency of this power.

With that in mind, the $46 million in research funding will be awarded to projects that advance “holistic solutions.” They will provide grid operators with “situational awareness” and “mitigation strategies against cyber and physical threats.”

The DOE will look at projects that focus on such things as control strategies, real-time system monitoring, robust communications and other technologies that can help make solar power more resilient at the bulk power and distribution levels.

In addressing situation awareness, projects should show how a fleet of multiple solar power systems in different locations could respond to fast-changing conditions under normal operations and could provide power to critical loads during grid outages. In advancing mitigation strategies, projects should identify the strategic location of solar PV systems that will ensure critical infrastructure will have power during widespread disruptions from either man-made or natural threats.

The DOE will fund approximately 10 projects over three years. Their price tag will vary from $2 million to $10 million. Applicants are encouraged to work with critical infrastructure owners and operators, including state, local, tribal and territories.

The deadline for submitting applications will be Dec. 7, 2018.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at

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