By John Addison (11/24/09)
The Department of Energy awarded today $620 million for projects around the country to demonstrate Smart Grid technologies and integrated systems that will help build a smarter, more efficient, and more resilient electrical grid. Electric cars will be smart charged and lithium batteries reused in some grid demonstrations. Secretary Chu today announced the 32 projects which include large-scale energy storage which will enable wind and to be delivered when needed.
The projects also include smart meters, distribution and transmission system monitoring devices, and a range of other smart technologies that facilitate deploying integrated Smart Grid systems on a broader scale. Smart Grids will allow electric vehicles to be charged at lower rates when energy demand is down; charging will match car owner preferences, independent of when they are connected for smart charging.
The funding awards are divided into two topic areas. In the first group, 16 awards totaling $435 million will support fully integrated, regional Smart Grid demonstrations in 21 states, representing over 50 utilities and electricity organizations with a combined customer base of almost 100 million consumers. The projects include streamlined communication technologies that will allow different parts of the grid to “talk” to each other in real time; sensing and control devices that help grid operators monitor and control the flow of electricity to avoid disruptions and outages; and on-site and renewable energy sources that can be integrated onto the electrical grid. For example:
In the second group, an additional 16 awards for a total of $185 million will help fund utility-scale energy storage projects that will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the grid, while reducing the need for new electricity plants. Improved energy storage technologies will allow for expanded integration of renewable energy resources like wind and photovoltaic systems and will improve frequency regulation and peak energy management. The selected projects include advanced battery systems (including flow batteries), flywheels, and compressed air energy systems. For example:
This funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be leveraged with $1 billion in funds from the private sector to support more than $1.6 billion in total Smart Grid projects nationally.
Secretary Chu said, “This funding will be used to show how Smart Grid technologies can be applied to whole systems to promote energy savings for consumers, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.”
Applicants say this investment will create thousands of new job opportunities that will include manufacturing workers, engineers, electricians, equipment installers, IT system designers, cyber security specialists, and business and power system analysts.