Beginning September 1, the Department of Energy is working with NV Energy, the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to optimize excess solar and storage capacity for grid services.
The project will maximize the potential of distributed energy resources or DERs, examples of which include rooftop solar PV units and battery energy storages, providing flexible and quicker grid services.
The research will specifically focus on smart inverter control for use in a defined set of grid services that will be developed as a suite of software applications for aggregating distributed DER learning agents, developing a grid-edge energy storage-as-a-service solution, co-optimizing aggregated grid services, and lowering the transaction costs of customer financial settlement for the use of their DER assets by deploying a blockchain and smart contract enabled settlement system.
"Power systems, renewable energy, and smart grid are areas of research emphasis in our department and developing this area is part of the strategic plan of the department and college," said M. Sami Fadali, chair and professor of the electrical and biomedical engineering department. "Using a donation from NVEnergy, and with the support of the College of Engineering, the faculty were able to establish a state-of the-art lab for real-time digital simulation of power systems that has allowed our faculty to become more competitive when seeking federal funding. This collaborative DOE grant will lead to new technological advances in the area of solar energy, with broader regional and national impacts towards more affordable and cleaner electricity infrastructure."
“This DOE-funded project will advance the solutions and technologies for utilizing behind-the-meters clean solar resources, to respond to the requirements of our aging electricity infrastructure,” said Hanif Livani, associate professor of electrical and biomedical engineering. “It will also lead to unlocking additional value streams for residential, commercial or industrial customers with PV [photovoltaic] solar panels, while reducing costs for all other customers and ratepayers."
As a co-principal investigator on this project, Ben-Idris will be responsible for developing and implementing optimum control algorithms for PV systems and energy storage devices to provide frequency regulation at both the transmission level and distribution level. He will also contribute to developing hardware-in-the-loop, or HIL testing, distributed optimization algorithms, co-optimization of voltage, and frequency control.
The University’s role in the project is to develop a dynamic DER aggregation model and within the grid services set, or GSS, focus on algorithm development for voltage support and frequency regulation services from the DERs.
The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2019 funding program supports projects that will improve the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the national grid. It funds projects that advance early-stage systems integration, photovoltaic or PV, and concentrating solar-thermal power technologies, and reduce the non-hardware costs associated with installing solar energy systems.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would provide $128 million in funding for 75 projects in this program. Fifteen of these projects will focus on advanced solar systems integration technologies. The three subtopics will focus on adaptive distribution protection, grid services from behind-the-meter solar and other distributed energy resources, and advanced PV controls and cybersecurity.
The projects will address the technical challenges facing system operators to integrate higher penetration of solar generation, resulting in technologies that improve the protection distribution power system, enhance the visibility and control of PV inverters and plants, along with facilitation of distributed PV to help supplement grid services while improving the security of those devices from cyberattacks.