The Department of Energy has announced that $25 million be invested in helping solar power be more easily integrated with the nation’s electric grid.
This is yet another part of the DOE’s SunShot Initiative which seeks to lower the cost of solar power to help enable it’s mainstream adoption.
ENERGISE is the name given to this grid modernization program (Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy). The program aims to work with utilities, solar companies, and software engineers to accomplish their grid integration goals.
As we approach mid-2016, the U.S. now has 23 times the amount of solar that it did in 2008. The almost 30 gigawatts of solar power that America has must be utilized in a way that works well with conventional electricity production. It’s a balancing act that is in the very beginning stages of being dealt with.
“Our ongoing grid modernization work will help accelerate the widespread adoption of the clean energy resources that will define our low-carbon future. This funding will help that mission by supporting industry partners working to integrate, store, and deploy solar energy throughout our electric grid” – Lynn Orr (DOE’s Secretary for Science and Energy).
About 10-15 specific grid solutions are expected to be developed and tested to demonstrate real world effectiveness. The program will also benefit from past systems integration work. They all represent steps towards a very clean energy enabled grid.
The underlying issue here is the intermittent nature of solar power. As late afternoon turns into evening, conventional energy sources must be ramped up to make up for the loss of solar energy. This requires advancements in grid technology and software that ENERGISE looks to play a significant role in providing.
A bigger picture viewpoint is that this is just a short term solution until battery storage solutions are commonplace. In the not too distant future, instead of ramping up conventional energy production after the sun sets, utilities and homeowners will draw upon solar powered battery storage systems.
It truly is an exciting time for fans of clean energy, especially solar power. It’s a source of energy that can be utilized by government entities, businesses, and homeowners alike. The work that the DOE is doing to encourage the integration of solar power will ultimately benefit all of us.