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Solar Research

Spotlight: Systems
A worker checks an inverter at the 2MW CoServ Solar Station in Krugerville, Texas.
Photo credit Ken Oltmann/CoServ.
The systems integration subprogram
within the Solar Energy Technologies
focus on creating holistic designs, device
Office supports early-stage research grid operations, rapid detection improvements, standard interfaces, and
that advances the reliable, resilient, and mitigation of grid disturbances, other solutions that can store solar energy
secure, and affordable integration protections from cyber and physical for on-demand dispatch and control energy
of solar energy onto the U.S. risks, and power recovery during loads for increased system flexibility and
community resilience.
electric grid. The research focuses system-wide outages. The systems
on addressing unique challenges integration subprogram funds
related to the integration of utility- research and development projects Power Electronics
Power electronics are the critical link
scale and distributed solar, such in five broad, interrelated focus
between a solar array and the electric
as generation variability, power flow areas: planning and operation, solar grid, in terms of both physical power
control, and visibility of behind-the- plus X, power electronics, sensing flow and informational exchange.
meter solar generation. Recent and communication, and codes and Improvements to inverter design and
technology advances present new standards. components can lower system costs,
extend service lifetimes, and increase
opportunities for holistic solar grid
Planning and Operation equipment reliability. Power electronics
integration solutions that provide projects also focus on improving
This area focuses on understanding
solar dispatchability and grid- advanced inverter functionalities that can
the impacts of increasing penetration
support functions like improved of solar energy on grid reliability. provide coordinated power flow control,
Solutions in this area focus on mitigating protect against cyber and physical
impacts of solar variability, managing attacks, and provide a suite of essential
two-way power flow, improving grid grid services like voltage and frequency
Solar Energy Technologies Office
flexibility, and enabling better planning control and power recovery.
The U.S. Department of Energy and operation decisions when there are
Solar Energy Technologies Office increasing amounts of distributed energy Sensing and Communication
(SETO) supports early-stage resources connected to the grid. As more solar and other distributed
research and development to energy resources connect to the grid,
improve the affordability, reliability, Solar Plus X sensing, communications, and advanced
Solar plus X refers to an integrated data analytics technologies are critical for
and performance of solar utilities to see how much solar energy is
behind-the-meter system that consists of
technologies on the grid. The office being generated and to improve visibility
distributed photovoltaics (PV), energy
invests in innovative research storage, smart building load, electric of distributed energy resources. Projects
efforts that securely integrate more vehicles, and optimized local control focus on making planning and operation
software, among others. This research decisions easier by developing solutions
solar energy into the grid, enhance
aims to leverage the inherent flexibility that create more points of observation
the use and storage of solar on the grid, improve cyber security, and
of each technology and reduce the total
energy, and lower solar electricity enhance situational awareness for grid
integration and operation costs of these
costs. distributed energy resource assets. Projects operators.
Codes and Standards
Technology advances have outpaced the base codes
and standards for the interconnection and interoper-
ability of PV systems connected to the grid. Solar,
storage, and load control technologies all have
different requirements and the use of these technolo-
gies together demand harmonization of their respec-
tive rules. Projects feature strong industry engage-
ment and focus on accelerating the creation and
revision of technical standards and test procedures
for grid connected devices and systems in a clear and
organized manner.

Current Funding Programs and SETO-funded researcher Brian Johnson measures electrical characteristics
Partnerships that emulate the characteristics of distribution lines in power systems at
the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Photo credit NREL.
The systems integration subprogram manages several
funding efforts to address each of its focus areas and
• Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage
participates in the Energy Department’s Grid Modernization
and Solar PV (SHINES) – This program develops and tests
Initiative. Current active funding programs include:
integrated PV and energy storage solutions and works to
• Power Electronics – These projects explore hardware dramatically increase solar-generated electricity that can be
solutions that aim to reduce PV plant lifetime costs by half, dispatched day or night to meet consumer electricity needs.
while enhancing the capabilities for real-time PV power
• SunShot National Laboratory Multiyear Partnership
flow control and enabling increased amounts of solar energy
(SuNLaMP) – In this program, national labs partner with
on the nation’s electric grid.
the DOE solar office to conduct research and development
• Solar Forecasting 2 – This program supports projects that that will enable hundreds of gigawatts of solar energy and
enable grid operators to better forecast how much solar other distributed energy resources to be integrated onto the
energy will be added to the grid in order to improve the electricity grid.
management of solar power’s variability and uncertainty
• Grid Modernization Lab Consortium Lab Call – This
and lower grid integration costs.
crosscutting research effort at the Energy Department aims
• Enabling Extreme Real-time Grid Integration of Solar to prepare for a modern grid and solar research focuses on
Energy (ENERGISE) – This program develops distribution safely and reliably connecting more solar systems to the
planning and operation solutions to enable dynamic, grid.
automated, and cost-effective management of distributed
• Resilient Distribution Systems Lab Call – This program
and variable generation sources, like solar, onto the grid.
develops and validates innovative approaches to enhance
the resilience of distribution systems, including microgrids,
when there are high penetrations of renewable distributed
energy resources on the grid.

Funding Opportunities
For more information on open funding opportunities, visit
SETO’s funding opportunities webpage:


Screenshot of IBM’s Self-Learning Weather Modeling Forecasting For more information, visit:
Technology (SMT) tool, which provides operationally gridded DOE/EE-1789 • June 2018
forecasts for the renewable energy industry. Photo credit IBM.