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NREL Teams With ComEd on Microgrid-Integrated Storage Solution to Get More Solar on the Grid

February 22, 2016

Effectively integrating large amounts of renewable energy such as solar photovoltaics (PV) onto the electric grid requires finding ways to manage the inherent variability of the resource. That's where energy storage technologies like batteries come in—when integrated into PV systems, storage can allow solar to power homes and businesses even after the sun sets, or when clouds go by.

This is why, as part of the Energy Department's Grid Modernization Initiative, the SunShot Initiative recently awarded $18 million to six projects under the new Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV (SHINES) program. These projects will enable the development and demonstration of integrated, scalable, and cost-effective solar technologies that incorporate energy storage.

NREL is partnering with utility company Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) on one of the six projects to design and deploy a new solar and battery storage technology within ComEd's planned microgrid demonstration project in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. The team will create a microgrid-integrated solar-storage technology (MISST) system that will enable the widespread use of low-cost, flexible, and reliable PV generation, as well as the use of battery energy storage systems.

This MISST system will address the availability and variability issues inherent in solar PV technology by using smart inverters for solar PV/battery storage and working synergistically with other components within the microgrid community.

NREL will work with Argonne National Laboratory to provide a full economic analysis of the MISST solution. In addition to the two national labs, ComEd is working with several other partners to bring MISST technology to its Bronzeville microgrid demonstration project, including Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Denver, S&C Electric, and G&W Electric.

—Wayne Hicks