US DoE awards US$33m to smart grid research


The DOE last week announced that the University of California, Arizona State University, Stanford University, General Electric Global Research and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will receive funding.

The disbursements, which fall under the Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems programme, aim to develop grid control technologies to create a virtual energy storage system to manage the intermittency of renewable energy.

Through the control systems, the DOE believes utilities will achieve real-time coordination between distributed generation and bulk power generation, while shaping electric load resulting in alleviation of costly peak demand periods and reduced wasted energy.

Smart grid funding in the US

The funding comes as backing of smart grid projects by various government departments is increasing in the US, as calls for increased adoption of renewable energy intensifies on a global scale.

In late October, the department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a loan package of US$2.3 billion to build and improve rural electric infrastructure in 31 US states.

Commenting on the development, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said USDA was awarding loans to 77 utilities and cooperatives.

The funding includes more than US$108 million for smart grid technology, US$41 million for renewable energy improvements and US$9 million for storm damage repairs.

These loans will reportedly help build or improve 12,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines, according to a USDA statement.

The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Electric Programme, which makes loans and loan guarantees to non-profit and cooperative associations, public bodies and other utilities, primarily for electric distribution in rural areas.

For example, six rural utilities in the south-eastern state of Georgia have received loans amounting to US$250 million for expansion of their electric grids.

Utility corporation Jackson EMC  said it will utilise its share of the loan in serving newly grid-connected office parks and sub divisions, according to an Atlanta-based radio station.