The need to modernize the nation’s outdated electrical infrastructure has become something of an axiom in the age of renewables. Recognizing that need, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has offered an incentive.
In early May, the DOE announced a funding opportunity for vendors whose products revolve around the nexus between solar power and the grid. Under its Grid Modernization Initiative, the DOE announced $25 million in available funding through an effort called Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE). The funding will help software developers, solar companies and utilities accelerate the integration of solar energy into the grid.
Specifically, the funding is designed to aid in the development of software and hardware platforms for utility-distribution systems that integrate sensing, communication and data analytics. The focus on this technology will help integrate solar into the grid by helping utilities balance rooftop generation with traditional grid transmission and distribution. According to the DOE, the software and hardware solutions will be highly scalable, data-driven and capable of real-time system operation and planning.
This funding program has two topic areas. The first encompasses near-term projects that are commercially ready, scalable solutions that enable the addition of solar at 50 percent of the peak-distribution load by 2020. The second topic area will include projects that tackle the long-term challenge to enable solar at 100 percent of the peak distribution load by 2030.
The DOE’s SunShot Initiative will oversee the projects associated with this funding. It expects to give out 10 to 15 awards, ranging between $500,000 and $4 million for the first topic area and between $500,000 and $2 million for the second.