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Feds Invest in Solar Energy Grid Integration
WASHINGTON, DC, July 29, 2009 (ENS) - Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today the investment of up to $11.8 million for five projects designed to advance the next stage of development of solar energy grid integration systems, or SEGIS, for utilties, businesses and homes.

The selections announced today are part of DOE's continuing work to help assure the nation's electrical grid reliability is maintained and improved as solar energy technologies are integrated into the power grid, said Secretary Chu.

This solar photovoltaic array was installed atop the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida earlier this year. (Photo courtesy U. Central Florida)

"Solar energy will be a critical factor in achieving the President's goal of creating new jobs as part of a clean energy economy," said Chu. "By integrating renewable energy onto the grid now, we can deliver power more reliably and effectively, lower utility bills for American families, and help rebuild our economy along the way."

Initiated in 2008 under the Bush administration, SEGIS activity emphasizes complete system development.

The projects chosen for funding will develop expertise in communications integration, facility and utility management networks, and lower cost manufacturing for solar systems.

The partnership includes the Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, industry, utilities, and universities. The selected projects, partly funded by the economic stimulus package, focus on the most promising technology advances and include development of intelligent system controls.

SEGIS projects will provide research and development funding for less expensive, higher performing products to enhance the value of solar photovoltaic systems to homeowners and business owners.

These projects aim to maintain or improve power quality and reliability, as well as return economic value, while increasing integration of solar technologies into the U.S. electrical grid.

The projects announced today were selected from those of 12 industry teams chosen in 2008 to participate in cost-shared cooperative agreements focusing on conceptual design of hardware components and market analysis. They include:

  • PVPowered of Bend, Oregon: PVPowered will work with Portland General Electric of Portland, Oregon, South Dakota State University, and Northern Plains Power Technologies, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, and SENSUS, a data collection and metering company in Raleigh, North Carolina.

    The project will reinforce the fundamental objectives of the SEGIS program to optimize interconnections across the full range of emerging photovoltaic module technologies through innovative systems integration.

    PVPowered is developing a suite of maximum power point tracking algorithms to optimize energy production from the full range of available and emerging PV module technologies with communications integration, facility energy management systems and utility management networks.

    DOE cost share: up to $3 million

  • Petra Solar of South Plainfield, New Jersey: Petra Solar will work with the University of Central Florida and 15 electric utilities with service in NJ, PA, OH, DE, MD, DC, FL, TX. This project supports improving reliability and resiliency so that high levels of photovoltaic integration can be adapted.

    The project focuses on multi-layer control and communication with photovoltaic systems to achieve grid interconnectivity, cost reduction, system reliability, and safety. The goal is a cost competitive, easy to install, modular and scalable system.

    DOE cost share: up to $2.9 million

  • Princeton Power of Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton Power will work with Transistor Device Inc., LaGuardia Community College, Idyllwild Municipal Water District, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Premier Power, SPG Solar, and Spire. This project focuses on lowering manufacturing costs through integrated controls for energy storage and develops new inverter designs.

    DOE cost share: up to $2.8 million

  • Apollo Solar of Bethel, Connecticut: Apollo Solar will work in collaboration with Saft Batteries, the Electric Power Research Institute, and California Independent System Operator. This project creates innovative inverters using energy storage and two-way communications between solar electrical systems and utilities.

    The inverters, charge controllers, and energy management systems will be able to communicate with utility energy portals to implement the seamless two-way power flows.

    Apollo Solar's goal is to develop advanced modular components for power conversion, energy storage, energy management, and a communications portal for residential-size solar electric systems.

    DOE cost share: up to $1.5 million

  • Florida Solar Energy Center of the University of Central Florida of Orlando: The Florida Solar Energy Center will work with Satcon Technology Corporation, SENTECH, Inc., SunEdison, Cooper Power Systems EAS, Northern Plains Power Technologies, and Lakeland Electric Utilities. This project focuses on solving technical challenges that must be overcome to include higher photovoltaic penetration levels in larger electrical systems.

    This project aims to develop new grid integration concepts for photovoltaics that incorporate optional battery storage, utility control, communication and monitoring functions, and building energy management systems.

    The Florida Solar Energy Center will validate an anti-islanding strategy for photovoltaic inverters to allow PV generation to remain connected to the grid during some grid disturbances, while still meeting safety operation requirements. New inverter architectures with advanced controls will be introduced, bringing more stability and security to the home.

    DOE cost share: up to $1.3 million

    • Copyright Environment News Service, ENS, 2009. All rights reserved.

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