The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) is currently leading one of five research and development teams that are working on the second stage of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Sandia National Laboratories’ Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems (SEGIS) projects. DOE plans to invest up to $24 million over a number of years to provide funding for the research and development of new solar electricity, or photovoltaic (PV), technology resulting in more versatile, higher-performing products. This research will make PV systems more practical for home and business owners, as well as for utilities, by improving the operational characteristics of the systems. These newly planned PV systems will allow solar electricity to become a more fundamental part of household and commercial energy systems while simultaneously serving a vital role in the utility portfolio of generation resources.
FSEC is leading a team of solar manufacturers and electric utilities throughout the country, including Satcon, Sentech, Inc., EnFlex, Cooper Industries, SunEdison, Northern Plains Power Technologies, Lakeland Electric Utilities, and other utilities.
This team will be working to develop new grid integration concepts for PV that utilize optional battery storage, utility control, communication and monitoring functions, and building energy management systems. The focus of this project is to develop a new inverter configuration that, when combined with enhanced storage and array technologies, will make grid-tied PV systems behave like conventional generators that utilities are accustomed to working with and interact seamlessly with the utilities’ electric grid. Under this planned configuration, PV systems will continue to operate during grid disturbances, such as the loss of other power plants, unlike the current grid-tied PV systems that automatically shut down during grid disturbances. Utilities will also be able to integrate control of the inverters, PV systems, battery storage and building electric loads into their master control systems, thereby providing such value-added functions as control of system voltage and other critical parameters of overall grid health and stability.
The project is broken up into the following three parts, or stages:
|“We have a strong and competent team for this project,” said the Director of FSEC’s Solar Energy Division, Bob Reedy. “I'm confident that our contributions in this project will add tremendous value to next generation PV systems while working toward the DOE’s goal of generating efficient and sustainable technology growth through solar energy and also improving the power quality and reliability of the overall utility grid.”|