FSEC to Lead Team for DOE Project, Making Solar More Practical

COCOA, Fla. – The University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) will lead one of 12 research and development teams that will work on 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 will lead a team of solar manufacturers and electric utilities throughout the country, including SatCon, Sentech, Inc., EnFlex, SunEdison, Northern Plains Power Technologies, Lakeland Electric Utilities, and other utilities. This team may receive up to $2.9 million 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.

“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.”

Plans for the team’s projects are underway, and formal research and development began in early August. The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported renewable energy and efficiency institute in the United States. Created by the Florida Legislature in 1975, FSEC’s mission is to research energy technologies that enhance Florida’s and the nation’s economy and environment, and to educate the public, students and practitioners on the results of the research. Working in alternative fuels, hydrogen and fuel cells, photovoltaics, solar thermal technologies, high performance buildings, and education areas, FSEC’s 140-member staff helps provide Florida with a future of energy independence and environmental sustainability. FSEC is also responsible for testing and certification of solar systems sold in the state of Florida. For more information about FSEC, please visit www.floridaenergycenter.org, or send your questions to info@fsec.ucf.edu.

Contact: Sara Tournade

(321) 638-1004

3 thoughts on “FSEC to Lead Team for DOE Project, Making Solar More Practical

  • September 22, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    I am an individual homeowner who is trying to find out about the feasibility of solar power to take care of 3 homes. Where should I go to get information on installation costs and area needed for this idea. ?

  • November 20, 2008 at 9:16 am

    We currently have an 8.4 KW system tied to the Florida Power Grid. We produce almost three times the power that we use when the grid is up an operating properly. We produce nothing when the Florida Power grid is down.
    I would like to see some help converting systems such as ours to the new inverter systems when they become available.
    Keep up the good work and thank you for listening.

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