Systems Integration

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two way power flow grid

The Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research that advances the reliable, resilient, secure, and affordable integration of solar energy onto the U.S. electric grid through its systems integration subprogram. The systems integration subprogram collaborates with other program offices as part of the Department of Energy’s Grid Modernization Initiative crosscutting research efforts to ensure our country’s grid is capable of introducing much more solar generation.

In recent years, solar generation has grown from less than 0.1% of the U.S. electricity supply to nearly 2% on an annual basis. In some states and regions, solar represents up to 15% of total annual electricity generation. This rapid solar expansion is occurring on an electric grid that was designed more than 100 years ago to rely upon large, centralized power plants and typically one-way power flows. Recent technology advances present new opportunities for holistic solar grid integration solutions that provide solar dispatchability and grid-support functions that can dynamically optimize grid operations and resource planning, rapidly detect and mitigate disturbances, integrate diverse generation sources, provide strong protection against physical and cyber risks, and supply critical power during system-wide outages.

The systems integration subprogram focuses on five research areas to enable seamless integration of solar energy onto a modernized electric grid:

  • Planning and Operation – Understanding the impacts of increasing penetration of solar energy on grid reliability and power quality and addressing the variability of solar generation and two-way power flows.
  • Solar + X – Developing best practices for interconnecting and integrating solar with energy storage and synergistic distributed energy resource technologies to achieve higher asset and utilization and value.
  • Power Electronics – Researching power electronic technologies such as smart photovoltaic inverters for flexible power flow control.
  • Sensing and Communication – Enhancing situational awareness of solar generation at the grid edge using advanced information, communication, and data analytic technologies.
  • Codes and Standards – Informing the standardization of interconnection, interoperability, and cybersecurity for photovoltaics and other distributed energy resource systems.

 

Through competitive funding solicitations, the systems integration subprogram supports research, development, testing, validation, and analysis to address the broad technical challenges to solar grid integration and to ensure system reliability, resilience, security, and affordability.

View the systems integration fact sheet (PDF).

Workshops & Events

Industry workshops help SETO obtain a wide range of stakeholder feedback to guide our mission. Learn more about the workshops that have identified barriers and opportunities to greater solar deployment.

Systems Integration Success Stories

EERE Success Story—Electric Cooperatives Channel Solar Resources to Rural American Communities

Some of the most remote areas in the United States were among the last locations to access electricity, with as many as nine out of 10 rural homes...

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EERE Success Story—SunShot-funded Advanced Inverter Testing Enables 2,500 Solar Energy Systems to Connect to Hawaii’s Electric Grid

Thanks to a SunShot collaboration at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in December 2015 Hawaiian Electric...

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EERE Success Story—EPRI Lays Foundation for Smart Inverter Technology

Advanced inverters are a critical enabler of high solar photovoltaic (PV) penetrations because of their smart functionalities and ability to...

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EERE Success Story-NREL Partners with Google in Little Box Challenge

Last month, Google and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) announced Belgium’s Red Electrical Devils (a team from CE+T...

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EERE Success Story—Solar Forecasting Gets a Boost from Watson, Accuracy Improved by 30%

Remember when IBM’s super computer Watson defeated Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter? With funding from the U.S. Department of...

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EERE Success Story—SunShot Funding Spurs Standardized Testing for “Smart” Solar Inverters

Solar inverters are one of the most important components of a solar energy system. These power electronic devices convert the direct current...

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