U.S. Government Plans to Expand Distributed Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has released a strategic plan to promote the use of renewable and distributed energy resources.

WASHINGTON, DC – The plan outlines a national effort to develop clean, reliable and affordable distributed energy technologies over the next 20 years, and is designed to make on-site generation a viable electricity alternative as the nation grapples with regional power shortages. Distributed energy resources are non-centralized methods of meeting the demand for electricity by generating power near the point of consumption as well as a variety of energy storage and energy efficiency technologies. “This strategic plan provides, for the first time, a framework for integrating the department’s many programs related to distributed energy resources, and for laying the groundwork for a system that will allow industrial, commercial and residential customers to choose from a diverse array of distributed energy resource products and services,” says Undersecretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. “The Energy Department is helping to provide advanced technologies and energy efficiency improvements to secure a clean energy future for the American people.” In the short term, the “Strategic Plan for Distributed Energy Resources” focuses on developing “next generation” distributed energy technologies and addressing the barriers that interfere with the development of distributed energy resources. Six separate strategic areas are addressed under the plan: – Coordinate research activities in renewable energy development such as concentrating solar power and solar buildings systems, geothermal, photovoltaic systems and wind energy; – Direct and coordinate diverse research in distributed natural gas technologies including advanced turbines and microturbines, cooling, heating and power systems, fuel cell systems, hybrid systems and natural gas engines; – Conduct research in enabling technologies such as combustion systems, fuel processing, hydrogen energy systems, materials and manufacturing, power electronics and sensors and controls; – Direct diverse research in energy generation and delivery systems architecture for distributed energy resources, including district energy, energy storage, grid interconnection, simulation tools, power parks and mini-grids, superconducting materials for electric systems and transmission and distribution; – Establish partnerships with private and public sector groups, including multi-year plans, industry visions and technology roadmaps; cost shared research and technology transfer activities; and – Conduct activities aimed at addressing infrastructure, institutional and regulatory needs, including building codes and standards; environmental permitting and siting; standardized interconnection protocols; state initiatives; tax provisions and utility restructuring. Increased research and development into distributed generation will spur industrial, residential and commercial customers to examine switching from traditional power generation, say DOE officials. Development will reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, enhance electric grid operations, boost local economic development, and increase energy and economic efficiency. Successful integration of distributed energy resources depends on sound technological development and systems analysis, as well as regulatory and institutional actions at both the state and federal levels of government, they add.

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