Back in December, Texas utility Austin Energy won a $4.3 million grant from the Department of Energy’s new SHINES (Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV) program. The goal: to test integrated, reliable, almost dispatchable solar PV, backed by batteries, thermal energy storage, and flexible demand-side resources, all at the cost of 14 cents per watt.It’s a tall order, involving a combination of utility-owned and third-party-managed hardware, software and communications systems. On the utility side are Austin Energy’s already formidable advanced distribution grid management and control capabilities, as well as a “distributed energy resource optimizer” from Seattle-based startup 1Energy, solar analytics from Clean Power Research, and integration with Texas grid operator ERCOT.
Could 2015 be the United States solar market’s best year in history? A new report shows that is shaping up to be — with record-breaking fourth quarter projections. According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. installed 1,361 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the third quarter of the 2015, marking the eighth consecutive quarter in which the U.S. has installed more than a gigawatt (GW) of PV capacity.
What could make solar PV, the growth of which is already soaring in the U.S. residential home market, even more popular? The value it adds to the home itself. In 2014, the number of home PV systems in the United States totaled more than half a million. Photovoltaics currently add value to homes, according to a new report led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a home appraisal expert that studied six markets.
New opportunities for the Internet of Things, or IoT, are growing exponentially. Don’t believe it? Just think of how many times you’ve recently heard the word “smart” to describe a new product. But that’s not the only area where you’ll find the IoT gaining traction. Applications for it are growing in the energy sector as well. California sees the value of developing “smart” solutions. The Golden State, with the SunSpec Alliance, recently launched a $4 million project to “investigate the application of interoperable smart inverters, solar PV, and storage to enhance grid stability and enable higher penetration of Distributed Energy Resources.”
SolarCity has announced a smart energy homes demonstration project in partnership with the SunSpec Alliance and Southern California Edison, where SolarCity will install rooftop solar PV, batteries, controllable thermostats, and smart inverters on 50 homes in the Southern California Edison territory. The team will demonstrate how smart energy homes, combining numerous distributed technologies, can be deployed and aggregated to advance the electric grid.
The SunSpec Alliance (San Jose, California, U.S.) on September 10th, 2015 announced that it has signed a final grant agreement and received a USD 2 million grant award from the California Energy Commission (CEC), plus another USD 2 million in match funding from industry partners.The total of USD 4 million will fund a study and field demonstration to investigate the application of interoperable smart inverters, solar PV, and storage to enhance grid stability and enable higher penetration of Distributed Energy Resources (DER). Further the study will explore new economic models enabled by solar photovoltaics (PV) plus storage that will drive rapid growth in the DER sector.
Supporting the Government of Queensland’s commitment to generate 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, local utility Ergon Energy has contracted with SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWR) to offer high efficiency photovoltaic (PV) solar power systems with energy storage technology from Sunverge Energy to 33 Queensland homes. This is Ergon Energy’s first residential solar and storage project to be piloted in a limited release commercial offer.
Energy storage has become an increasing focal point for solar companies, which is not surprising given solar’s intermittency issues. While solar PV costs have declined tremendously over the past few decades, this energy technology cannot offer base load supply. Without a cost-effective energy storage device, solar PV will forever be dependent upon other energy sources like natural gas to provide for base load energy. The panacea to this issue has always been energy storage, which is great news as energy storage innovations are starting to gain significant momentum.
For many customers, integrating renewables is still something that seems out of reach. A lack of available information can be an obstacle to pulling the trigger on solar, and HEI is looking to change that. With their WattPlan program, the utility is looking to help inform customers. The program will let them estimate electric bill savings based on their electricity use, current rates, and available rebates and tax credits. They can also compare the pros and cons of purchasing or financing solar PV.
The Smart Grid Research Consortium (SGRC) today announced new SGRC Utility Solar Photovoltaic Forecasting Models and Forecasting Service. The SGRC Solar Models and Service provide the first commercially available annual forecasts of residential solar PV system installations, energy and hourly load impacts, costs and benefits over a 10-year forecast horizon.Forecasts are provided for distribution feeders, substations, ZIP areas, and the entire utility service areas. Low, medium and high forecasts are provided to reflect the range of likely PV installation and load impacts.