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July 30th, 2010

Sandia, SunPower to cooperate on PV-to-grid modeling and tool development

Published on July 30th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org
Credit: Sunpower

Credit: SunPower

Sandia National Lab and SunPower Corp. say they have reached a new agreement on research into integrating utility-scale solar energy systems into the national electrical grid.

Although a news release about this new cooperative research and development agreement only mentions photovoltaic systems, I have to imagine that might have been a mistake since it would be pretty nearsighted of them to exclude concentrating solar power systems.

Regardless, the two entities have at least $1 million in funding from the DOE and another $1 million from the California Solar Initiative fund.

In an announcement from SNL, Terry Michalske, director of Energy and Security Systems at the lab, said, “This partnership will enable Sandia and SunPower to capitalize on their respective strengths and bring together PV modeling and analysis expertise with extensive system data to answer many of the urgent questions facing utility companies and their customers who are turning to clean, solar energy resources.”

Generally speaking, the point of their work is how to blend sources with volatile energy levels into a grid whose customers rely on steady levels of power.

Abraham Ellis, one of Sandia’s photovoltaic specialists said, “A question worth asking is: What are the possible impacts of connecting very large PV systems or a lot of smaller, distributed PV systems on the grid, and what are the solutions for mitigating these impacts? It’s not just a rhetorical question anymore. Part of the problem is that we lack specialized tools and data to properly assess the impact on the grid and evaluate mitigation alternatives. This partnership will help address those challenges.”

SunPower recently completed large PV systems for Yolo County, California, and on the South Side of Chicago, using its proprietary PV panels and solar-tracking system.

 


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