SunShot Awards Rain on Storage Innovators

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) showed again at the SPI 2014 trade show in Las Vegas last week that it is dedicated to fomenting many of the best innovations in the renewable energy industry, with an additional $53 million in SunShot awards. The announcement this week is $15 million to help integrate distributed solar energy systems into the grid.

“The SHINES (Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV) goal is to enable the integration of hundreds of gigawatts of solar onto the electric grid in a dispatchable way that interoperates with utility systems and building energy management systems. Solutions developed under SHINES are expected to be flexible and scalable to support solar penetrations of up to 100% of peak load,” Ranga Pitchumani, chief scientist of the SunShot initiative and program manager for systems integration said.  

Among the quantitative goals of these awards, “The 2020 levelized cost of electricity target for solutions developed under SHINES, when manufactured and installed at scale, is less than or equal to 14 cents per kWh fully installed, interconnected to the grid, and approved for operation by the utility,” Pitchumani said.

“Other goals include a 25-year lifetime, less than $1,000 long-term target interconnection, and less than 1 week interconnection time from application to full approval for operations by the utility and other relevant approving agencies,” Pitchumani said.

Eligible projects include solutions that will help “revolutionize” distributed PV and energy storage through:

·         Advanced operation in conjunction with smart loads and demand response,

·         Incorporation of solar and load forecasting,

·         Innovative uses of smart components and functionalities, and

·         Easily interoperable hardware, software and firmware technologies.

“With more solar power installed in the United States in the last 18 months than in 30 years prior, solar is shattering records,” the DOE reckons. “Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar power installed in the U.S. has increased more than thirteen fold – from 1.2 gigawatts (GW) in 2008 to an estimated 15.9 GW today – enough to power the equivalent of 3.2 million average American homes,” it elaborates.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality and economic vitality. EERE’s SunShot Initiative works to make solar energy fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources by the end of the decade. This funding builds on SunShot’s work to advance solar energy technologies to drive innovations in systems integration technologies that support the deployment of solar energy technologies and the reliability and efficiency of electricity generation, delivery, and use.

Image: Solar Panels and Sky via Shutterstock

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Charles W. Thurston is a journalist who specializes in renewable energy, from finance to technological processes. He has been active in the industry for over 25 years, living and working in locations ranging from Brazil to Papua New Guinea.

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