Pecan Street awarded $7.9 million to develop solar congestion solution

The US Department of Energy has awarded a five-year, $7.9 million Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Programme (GRIP) grant to Pecan Street Inc. and its partners to develop and deploy technology that will allow utilities to manage solar supply and energy demand throughout the grid.
Pecan Street awarded $7.9 million to develop solar congestion solution
Courtesy of Unsplash/Bill Mead.

The technology will be deployed in Delaware, where system congestion has forced utilities to deny any additional solar installations across large swaths of the state. Pecan Street’s partners include Delaware Electric Cooperative, The Institute of Energy Conversion at the University of Delaware, Clean Energy USA, Imani Energy, and Energize Delaware.

“Our electricity system requires real-time balancing of energy supply and demand” said Scott Hinson, chief technology officer of Pecan Street and the project lead. “That becomes a problem for the grid if too much solar is produced when there’s not enough demand. Our technology will manage how much solar energy enters the grid to match current demand.”

Launched in 2009, Pecan Street has developed various communication and metering technologies that power its residential energy research network. Across nearly a dozen states and Puerto Rico, Pecan Street collects energy use data from multiple circuits of volunteers’ homes every second. The resulting data has spurred groundbreaking research on solar generation, electric vehicle charging behavior, home energy storage, and potential load-balancing opportunities.

The boom in residential solar installation has created a congestion challenge in several areas. In Delaware, grid operators have prohibited new grid connections for nearly 40,000 homes in these so-called “red zones,” representing thousands of potential solar homes and megawatts of valuable renewable energy.

“Hosting capacity limitations are happening in more areas, precisely at a time when we need to encourage solar investment and expand solar access to more customers, including underserved communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and environmental degradation” said Pecan Street CEO Dr. Anissa Rodriguez Dickerman. Addressing these limitations will have impacts far beyond Delaware, and we are thrilled we have been selected to put our technology into practice.”

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