Harnessing the power of solar to enhance the electric grid

Sun reflects on solar panelsArizona State University researchers are set to receive a $3.6 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office to advance solar energy’s role in strengthening reliability and resiliency of the nation’s electricity grid. The research project, which is funded by the Advanced Systems Integration for Solar Technologies (ASSIST) program, will focus on building enhanced grid models and control technologies for increasing the amount of renewable power operating in the distribution system. “The present distribution grid has not been designed to handle very high levels of solar energy,” said Raja Ayyanar, who is the lead principal investigator on the project and a professor of electrical engineering in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “As solar is a clean and increasingly cost-effective energy resource, photovoltaic inverters have great potential to enhance grid resilience and performance while ensuring reliable power to critical infrastructures.” Ayyanar’s team at the university consists of Ira A. Fulton Chair Professor Vijay Vittal, who is a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Assistant Professor Qin Lei and Assistant Professor Yang Weng — all faculty members in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of the six Fulton Schools. Collaborators from Iowa State University, the Arizona Public Service Company, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Hitachi America Ltd. and Poundra, a local company working actively in the area of solar integration, round out the research team. Read the full story on ASU Now.