DOE awards NRECA Cooperative Research Network funding for solar project

The Cooperative Research Network Redirecting to a non-government site (CRN), the research arm of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), is receiving $2.1 million of a $9 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to the North Carolina State University FREEDM Systems Center Redirecting to a non-government site to develop a “plug and play” photovoltaic (PV) system.

CRN’s role in the project will be to coordinate demonstrations with at least two cooperatives to evaluate the PV systems and test the utility interconnection. In addition to assisting in the design of the project, CRN will also ensure the standards comply with the MultiSpeak specification, the de facto common interface model electric utilities use worldwide.

NRECA Research, Engineering & Technical Services Vice President John Hewa said, “CRN will be focusing on the integration of residential level solar resources on reliability and developing a system that works for both the consumer and the utility, simplifying the installation process without compromising safety or electric reliability.”

More than a dozen cooperatives across the country are developing community solar farms to meet the growing demand from consumer members for solar energy systems. This project will enable cooperatives to offer members more simple, safe and reliable options to add their own renewable energy generators.

The grant is part of DOE’s SunShot Initiative, which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other sources of energy by 2020.

The Cooperative Research Network conducts original, collaborative research for the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives.

Funding available for hyper-energy-efficiency demonstrations

Members of American Public Power Association’s (APPA) Demonstration of Energy Efficient Developments (DEED) program who are eager to show their leadership in energy efficiency may be eligible for co-funding to finance hyper-energy-efficiency demonstration projects.

APPA is collaborating with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to increase the number of EPRI demonstration projects for five innovative technologies:

  1. Variable-refrigerant-flow air conditioning
  2. Efficient data centers
  3. Heat-pump water heaters
  4. Ductless, residential heat-pumps and air-conditioners
  5. Hyper-efficient residential appliances

EPRI is currently monitoring active projects involving these technologies, but would like to install the hyper-efficient systems in different locations to get more comprehensive data. Earlier this year, the DEED board expressed willingness to provide co-funding to DEED members to help finance their participation in these EPRI projects.

New demonstrations must begin operating by the close of first quarter 2011 so that EPRI can obtain a full year of data. Although the application deadline is flexible, the sooner proposals are submitted to DEED, the better.

Interested parties will have to move fast to meet the timeframe for installation; however, there are resources to help them develop their proposals. APPA is offering to arrange one-on-one conference calls with EPRI, so potential participants can get answers to their specific questions. Also, EPRI has established manufacturer contacts for the equipment, and is able to give participants “the heads-up” about operational issues identified through its current projects.

Participation in any of these demonstrations will showcase your utility as an energy-efficiency innovator at the national level. Your customers and city leaders will be proud of their electric utility’s national recognition as a leader in energy efficiency and utility R&D. Contact Michele Suddleson at 202-467-2960 if you are interested in learning more.