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DoE launches US$15 million of funding to integrate distributed PV using storage

The US Department of Energy’s Sunshot initiative has announced US$15 million in funding to aid the integration of solar into the electrical grid infrastructure using energy storage systems.

The DoE put out a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) of the new scheme, Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV (SHINE), on Thursday. The department stated that SHINE is actively looking for projects “enabling the development and demonstration of integrated, scalable, and cost-effective technologies for solar that incorporate energy storage and work seamlessly to meet both consumer needs and the needs of the electricity grid.”

The emphasis appears very much to be on distributed, ‘on-site’ solar, rather than centralised generation from utility-scale plants. The idea is that inexpensive and flexible distributed generation from PV could be deployed more widely and integrated more readily into the grid using suitable storage projects.

The US regions of California, Hawaii and New York lead the country on energy storage at present, both in terms of deployment and policy, making them by definition among the global leaders. Earlier this week, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced that nine companies will receive up to US$250,000 each to fund “bench-to-prototype” funding to move closer to commercialisation from the research stage.

In addition to already existing schemes to support storage in other countries including Germany, recent weeks have seen funding and storage policy announcements from governments including India and Singapore.

The DoE said that successful projects under SHINE will need to be able to use smart technology including metering and inverters and capable of providing some level of demand response, will incorporate solar and forecasting of loads. According to the DoE, they should also feature “easily interoperable hardware, software and firmware technologies”.

From a total pot of US$15 million, SHINE will distribute funding across a number of projects. Awarded projects must shoulder at least 50% of the project cost, with individual award amounts ranging from US$500,000 to US$5,000,000.

An informational webinar will be held on 13 November for interested parties, hosted by the DoE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, which oversees Sunshot. The wider Sunshot programme, a national effort to support solar, has funded more than 350 projects since 2011, according to the energy efficiency office website. After the webinar, the submission deadline for concept papers will be in mid-December. Full applications must then be received by March 2015. Following further consultation steps, selection notifications are expected to go out on 22 June next year. According to the office, award negotiations are then expected to be completed within 60 days.