The 32 smart grid demonstration projects, which include large-scale energy storage, smart meters, distribution and transmission system monitoring devices, and a range of other smart technologies, will act as models for deploying integrated smart grid systems on a broader scale, the Department of Energy (DoE) says.
The funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be leveraged with US$1 billion in funds from the private sector to support more than US$1.6bn in total smart grid projects nationally.
Secretary Chu also has also released a video on YouTube, explaining what investments in the smart grid can mean for American consumers.
“These demonstration projects will further our knowledge and understanding of what works best and delivers the best results for the smart grid, setting the course for a modern grid that is critical to achieving our energy goals,” says Secretary Chu.
“This funding will be used to show how smart grid technologies can be applied to whole systems to promote energy savings for consumers, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.”
An analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute estimates that implementing smart grid technologies could reduce electricity use by more than 4% by 2030. That could mean savings of US$20.4bn for businesses and consumers around the USA, and US$700 million for Ohio alone.
The smart grid demonstration projects could also help verify the technological and business viability of new smart technologies and show how fully integrated smart grid systems can be readily adapted and copied around the country.
The funding awards are divided into two topic areas:
In the first group, 16 awards totalling US$435m will support fully integrated, regional smart grid demonstrations in 21 states, representing over 50 utilities and electricity organisations with a combined customer base of almost 100 million consumers.
The projects include streamlined communication technologies that will allow different parts of the smart grid to talk to each other in real time; sensing and control devices that help grid operators monitor and control the flow of electricity to avoid disruptions and outages; smart meters and in-home systems that empower consumers to reduce their energy use and save money; energy storage options; and on-site and renewable energy sources that can be integrated onto the electrical grid.
In the second group, an additional 16 awards for a total of US$185m will help fund utility-scale energy storage projects that will enhance the reliability and efficiency of the grid, while reducing the need for new electricity plants.
Improved energy storage technologies will allow for expanded integration of renewable energy resources like wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and will improve frequency regulation and peak energy management. The selected projects include advanced battery systems (including flow batteries), flywheels, and compressed air energy systems.