The Biden-Harris administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is releasing $26 million to fund projects that will demonstrate that America’s electricity grid can reliably run with a mix of solar, wind, energy storage and other clean distributed energy resources.
Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Solar and Wind Grid Services and Reliability Demonstration Program will show how clean energy resources can address key reliability challenges facing the grid by developing and testing tools and plant functions that allow the grid to stay online amid disturbances and restart if it goes down. The demonstration projects will provide data to underscore how President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030 can be achieved while supporting grid reliability.
“Americans do not have to choose between a clean grid and a reliable one as we move forward towards our goals of a net-zero economy by 2050,” says U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, DOE is proving that transitioning to solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources can keep the lights on without service interruptions, while creating good paying jobs.”
The U.S. electricity grid was originally built to deliver power from just a few large fossil fuel power plants to homes and businesses, but today’s grid has a mix of traditional and renewable energy sources. DOE investments have led to the development of new tools that enable grid operators to manage this increasingly complex network. Now those tools need to be demonstrated at a broader scale to increase their adoption and build trust as grid operators face a growing number of disruptions, such as cyberattacks, extreme weather events, and wildfires. To achieve a clean power sector, clean energy sources such as solar and wind generation and energy storage must prove that they are able to support the grid during normal as well as emergency situations.
The Solar and Wind Grid Services and Reliability Demonstration Program will fund up to 10 projects that demonstrate how large-scale solar, wind and energy storage can support the power grid by automatically adjusting to changing demand and disruptions. Projects, which require testing at a plant of at least 10 MW in size from a mix of solar, wind or other generation or storage technology, will also demonstrate how a clean energy grid prevents blackouts by quickly identifying and responding to faults.
Academic institutions, private companies, nonprofits, state and local governments, and tribal nations are encouraged to apply and form diverse teams that include representation from entities such as historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions, and community-based organizations.
Through DOE’s new Building a Better Grid Initiative DOE, is deploying more than $20 billion in federal financing tools, including through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s new $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program, $3 billion expansion of the Smart Grid Investment Grant Program, and more than $10 billion in grants for states, Tribes, and utilities to enhance grid resilience and prevent power outages, and through existing tools, including the more than $3 billion Western Area Power Administration Transmission Infrastructure Program, and a number of loan guarantee programs through the Loan Programs Office.