Case Western Reserve University will participate in a three-year collaborative research project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative to develop solar energy storage solutions and a more resilient, secure national electrical grid.

Led by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Case Western Reserve researchers will investigate grid integration of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation, energy storage, load management and solar forecasting. The project is part of the Energy Department’s Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV, or SHINES, program.

With a total budget of $6.3 million, the research project aims to support the transformation of electric power system design and operation to seamlessly integrate solar PV and energy storage. Energy storage, solar PV and affordable, reliable grid modernization technologies are expected to play an increasingly important role in reaching the nation’s climate and clean energy goals.

Case Western Reserve, in collaboration with FirstEnergy, MCCo, Eaton, GE’s Grid Solutions (formerly Alstom Grid) and LG Chem, will provide a location on campus for one of the project’s three demonstration sites.

“Solar PV and energy storage, if effectively coordinated and controlled, could provide significant value to energy providers and consumers and result in very efficient grid operations,” said Marija Prica, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve. “These demonstrations are a critical step toward broader adoption of these technologies on the grid scale and will offer insights and advancements for managing the electric grid with high quality of service to customers while integrating PV and energy storage.”

Prica, Case Western Reserve’s lead investigator for the project, Kenneth Loparo, the Nord Professor of Engineering and chair of electrical engineering and computer science, and Mingguo Hong, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, will develop, design and demonstrate a two-level control strategy that will be demonstrated at the Case Western Reserve site.

The control system’s objective is to effectively manage energy from solar PV sources, energy storage and traditional generation to maintain reliability and the quality of electricity service to consumers.

Research at Case Western Reserve will include:

  • Developing a two-level control architecture with optimal control strategies;
  • Developing controllable distributed energy resources that combineenergy storage, load management and demand response with solar PV;
  • Integrating high-resolution solar forecasting to improve solar PV predictability;
  • Managing smart inverters to improve system performance.

This effort is one of six new projects, representing $18 million in funding, for research that improves the ability to provide solar power as needed and helps to improve the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid.