The Systems Integration (SI) program seeks to enable the widespread deployment of safe, reliable, and cost effective solar energy on the nation’s electricity grid by addressing the associated technical and regulatory challenges.
The installed cost of solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) have fallen significantly in recent years, spurring significant growth and accelerating deployment of solar energy systems. The anticipated proliferation of solar power at the centralized and distributed scales emphasizes the need for timely and cost effective interconnection procedures, accurate prediction of solar resources, and monitoring and control of solar power. Moreover, the impact of solar energy on the performance and reliability of transmission and distribution power systems is becoming a larger challenge.
To proactively anticipate and address potential challenges under a scenario in which hundreds of gigawatts (GW) of solar energy are interconnected to the electricity grid, the SI program has identified the challenges to be addressed in four broad, inter-related areas:
- Grid Performance and Reliability: Maintain and enhance the efficiency and reliability of electric transmission and distribution systems in a cost-effective, safe manner with hundreds of gigawatts of solar generation deployed onto the nation’s power system.
- Dispatchability: Ensure that solar power is available on-demand, when and where it is needed and at the desired amounts, in a manner that is comparable to or better than conventional power plants.
- Power Electronics: Develop intelligent devices that maximize the power output from solar power plants and interface with the electric grid (or end use circuits), while ensuring overall system performance, safety, reliability, and controllability at minimum cost.
- Communications: Create infrastructure that is used to inform, monitor and control generation, transmission, distribution and consumption of solar energy effectively under broad temporal and spatial scales.
The SI program funds projects at the national laboratories, industry, and universities through competitive funding solicitations that map to the four primary activity areas.