California offers $11.7m grant for R&D in smart grid tech


In the US, the California Energy Commission has this week announced it is offering a US$11.7 million grant for research and development (R&D) into smart grid technology to help reach the state’s renewable energy targets.

According to local media, the grant will cover R&D in smart grid operation and management practices, distribution automation and bi-directional distribution equipment, and technology to increase grid reliability and shorten grid downtime.

Microgrid Knowledge reported that bids for the grant are opened to entities and individuals except publicly owned utilities until 15 January, 2016.

The commission has earmarked US$2.5 million for R&D in distribution automation while US$4.5 million will cover microgrid controls from June 30, 2016 to March 29, 2019.

Renewable energy generation in California

The US state of California has set a target to generate 20GW of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

However, the California Energy Commission highlighted that “with limited capacity for two-way power flows and without control and communication at the point of use, California’s existing distribution system is not equipped to fully realize the benefits of distributed generation.”

The development follows last month’s release of a new report by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), summarizing adoption of renewable energy in each of the 13 Western US states.

The report Renewable Energy In the 50 States discusses states’ percentages of generation from each electricity source, renewable electricity capacity, renewable transformation, private sector investment, state policies and other factors shaping the market development.

States whose renewable energy status is analysed by the study are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montano, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoning.

According to the report, in order to integrate further increases in renewable capacity, Western US states’ regulators are seeking to employ measures to better manage energy storage and flexible demand response capacity.

ACORE believes the reliability of storage systems would make facilitate the intermittency inherent in wind and solar as well as lower the need to curtail production during periods of supply.

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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.