The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded a $2.1 million contract to Solectria Renewables as part of its SunShot Initiative, to develop integrated smart-grid ready photovoltaic (PV) inverters with utility communications. The project will be completed in partnership with Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Detroit Edison, National Grid, and Xcel Energy. The DOE program is aimed at bringing cost-competitive solar technologies to market faster.
The purpose of a PV inverter or a solar inverter is to convert the variable DC output of the solar modules into a utility frequency AC current that can be fed into the electrical grid. A PV inverter has special functions adapted for use with PV arrays. The key objectives of the Solectria Renewables Program are to leverage ongoing investments in smart grid and related standards as well as to expand PV inverter capabilities. The company says that together these two things will help grid operators better utilize grid assets.
“We are honored to have been selected by the Department of Energy to receive this award, which is a reaffirmation of our leadership in the inverter space,” said Michael Zuercher-Martinson, CTO of Solectria Renewables. “Enabling utilities to control our SMARTGRID inverters (SGI) is the next big step towards a smarter grid that can accommodate a very high PV penetration density in a safe, secure, efficient and reliable manner.”
Detroit Edison, National Grid and Xcel Energy will supply test sites ranging from 605kW to 30MW. Each of the sites will test different aspects of the technologies being developed by EPRI and Solectria Renewables.