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Solar gets a $29 million shot in the arm from DOE

By: SmartGridNews.com |

The Energy Department announced a $29 million investment in four projects to advance affordable solar energy as part of its SunShot Initiative.

Two of the projects, which will receive $8 million, are designed to help utilities and grid operators better forecast when, where and how much solar power will be produced at U.S. solar energy plants. The DOE says enhanced solar forecasting technologies can help power system operators to integrate cost-competitive, reliable solar energy into the electricity grid.

In on project, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, based in Boulder, Colorado, will research methods to understand cloud impact and develop short-term prediction techniques based on this work.

Meanwhile in Armonk, New York, the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center will lead a new project based on the Watson computer system that uses big data processing and self-adjusting algorithms to integrate different prediction models and learning technologies.

The remaining $21 million investment will be used over five years to design plug-and-play photovoltaic systems that homeowners can purchase, install and make operational in one day.

“The price of solar panels has fallen dramatically in recent years, but we also need to reduce the cost and time required to actually install them in homes and businesses, and help utility companies better integrate renewable energy into the grid.” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Projects like these can help reduce the cost of solar power and make it easier for American families and businesses to access clean, affordable energy.”