US plugs $11 million into solar energy grid integration

Sunedison photovoltaic power plant near Alamosa, Colorado (Credit: NREL)

The US Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced an investment of $11.8 million for solar energy grid integration systems (SEGIS).

The funding, which includes $5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will support five projects that aim to take SEGIS to the next level of development.

The projects include a $3 million effort led by PVPowered to optimise interconnections between all types of PV modules and a $2.9 million joint venture between Petra Solar, the University of Central Florida and fifteen electric utilities to improve the reliability of solar power systems.

Other projects will aim to reduce the manufacturing costs on energy storage controls and inverters and improve communications between solar power generating systems and utilities.

“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,” said Chu.

Meanwhile, two US universities have been awarded just under $1 million by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to set up a centre of excellence focused on modernising the national power grid.

The Universities of Arkansas and South Carolina will jointly receive $176,000 a year for the next five years from the NSF, together with membership fees of $40,000 a year for utilities and $5000 for other SMEs that join the centre.

The research will focus on developing electronic ‘solid-state’ systems based on silicon carbide to replace the grid’s existing electromechanical switchgear, which can function slower than required leading to unreliable service.

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Related stories:
US Department of Energy announces $30 billion in loan guarantees for renewables (31-Jul)
US invests in community renewable schemes and solar research (20-Jul)
US announces $3 billion in cash incentives for renewables (13-Jul)
US funding bonanza for a smart grid and energy efficiency measures (26-Jun)
US invests in smart grid (20-Apr)
Obama recovery plan signed into law (18-Feb)

04 August 2009