U.S. DOE commits US$33 million to projects to integrate more renewables on the grid

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On Friday, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) announced US$33 million in funding to 12 projects under a program whose goal is to allow the integration of 50% or more renewable energy on the grid.

The awards through the Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) program are for the development of control systems to coordinate electric load and generation on the grid, to create what DOE describes as an “virtual energy storage system”.

The agency says that these will allow for real-time coordination between distributed solar, large-scale renewable energy and bulk power generation, as well as shaping electricity load.

DOE cites multiple goals for the projects under this program, including reduction of peak demand costs and a reduction in wasted energy as well as the ability to integrate higher levels of wind and solar on the grid.

Individual awards range from $1.3-3.9 million, and the recipients are a mixture of universities, private research bodies, national laboratories and corporations across the United States, as well as the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The two largest awards at $3.9 million each went to General Electric Global Research and the U.S. DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). General Electric Global Research and partners will develop a distributed flexibility resource technology to aggregate responsive flexible loads and distributed resources, to provide what it describes as “synthetic” reserve services to the grid.

And important aspect of this project will be the development of a forecast tool to use short-term and real-time weather forecasts along with other data to estimate the reserve potential of aggregate loads and distributed generation on a day-ahead basis.