As part of the Grid Modernization Initiative, EERE recently announced $18 million in funding for six new projects that could make 24-hour solar energy available across the country. These projects are part of SunShot’s Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV (SHINES) program, which aims to dramatically increase solar-generated electricity that can be dispatched day or night to meet consumer needs.
Today’s 100-year-old electricity system relies on central generation and distribution. Instead of solar feeding energy from one central location to thousands of customers, thousands of photovoltaic (PV) rooftop panels feed energy to the grid. This reverse flow creates the need to reconfigure or upgrade grid infrastructure.
SHINES addresses energy storage challenges. Since solar energy is only generated during the day, there is an influx of mid-morning energy onto the grid and a drop-off when the sun goes down. These large swings in energy flow are currently difficult and expensive to accommodate. SHINES projects are investigating new integrated solutions that utilize smart inverters to enable more reliable solar energy generation.
Plans call for at least one year of field demonstrations of the SHINES solutions by utilities or their partners. Widespread adoption of these advanced solutions will eventually lead toward hundreds of gigawatts of solar energy on to the grid.
“Energy storage, solar PV and smart grid technologies experienced incredible growth in 2015,” said EERE Assistant Secretary David Danielson. “We expect they will play an increasingly important role in reaching the nation’s climate and clean energy goals in the coming years.”