US President Joe Biden has launched a US$26 million-funded project that will demonstrate the US electricity grid can reliably run entirely on renewables and energy storage.
Through the US Department of Energy (DOE), the programme will look into how renewable energy can maintain grid reliability and allow it to stay connected during disturbances or reboot it in case of a shut down.
As the grid was originally built to deliver power from fossil fuel plants, the introduction of renewable energy at scale has meant the needs to test the development of new tools that are managing an increasingly complex network.
Jennifer Granholm, US Secretary of Energy, said: “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 programme will fund up to ten projects that demonstrate how solar PV plants, wind and energy storage with a capacity mix of at least 10MW can support the power grid by automatically adjusting to different demands and disruptions as well as preventing blackouts.
Further investment into cadmium telluride
Furthermore, the DOE has launched a Cadmium Telluride Accelerator Consortium with a funding of US$20 million to decrease the cost of cadmium telluride (CdTe), improve its efficiency and develop new markets for solar cell products. CdTe is the key material for thin-film solar manufacturing championed by US manufacturer First Solar.
The consortium will be led by solar manufacturer First Solar, the University of Toledo in Ohio, Colorado State University, CdTe module manufacturer Toledo Solar, and Sivananthan Laboratories.
This announcement comes less than a month after the DOE invested US$56 million to support solar manufacturing, with one of the schemes specifically aimed at CdTe.
Moreover, the consortium has a broad research plan that includes CdTe doping strategies, characterising and exploring new CdTe contacting materials, and work to enable a bifacial CdTe module.
Through the DOE, the Biden administration has been investing in several projects in the past few weeks as it was being stonewalled by senator Joe Manchin on accepting the Build Back Better Act.
Late last week the West Virginia senator accepted a deal with majority leader Chuck Schumer to vote on the now dubbed Inflation Reduction Act which will include US$369 billion in energy security and climate change programmes over the next decade and is set to boost domestic PV manufacturing.