US Department of Energy (DOE) has granted a substantial five-year, $7.9 million award to Pecan Street Inc. and its esteemed partners as part of the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Programme (GRIP). The grant's primary objective is to facilitate the development and deployment of cutting-edge technology that enables utilities to efficiently manage solar supply and energy demand across the grid.
The deployment of this groundbreaking technology will specifically target Delaware, where grid congestion issues have led to utilities having to deny further solar installations across extensive portions of the state. Pecan Street Inc.'s collaborative partners in this venture include Delaware Electric Cooperative, The Institute of Energy Conversion at the University of Delaware, Clean Energy USA, Imani Energy, and Energize Delaware.
Scott Hinson, the Chief Technology Officer of Pecan Street and the lead on the project, emphasized the critical need for real-time balancing of energy supply and demand within the electricity system. Hinson stated, “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.”
Founded in 2009, Pecan Street Inc. has established itself as a pioneer in developing communication and metering technologies that power its residential energy research network. Operating across nearly a dozen states and Puerto Rico, the organization collects real-time energy consumption data from multiple circuits in volunteers' homes. This invaluable data has been instrumental in driving groundbreaking research in areas such as solar generation, electric vehicle charging behavior, home energy storage, and potential load-balancing opportunities.
The surge in residential solar installations has given rise to congestion challenges in various regions. In Delaware, grid operators have been compelled to prohibit new grid connections for nearly 40,000 homes in these designated “red zones,” representing thousands of potential solar-powered residences and valuable renewable energy capacity.
Dr. Anissa Rodriguez Dickerman, CEO of Pecan Street, stressed the broader implications of these hosting capacity limitations. She stated, “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.” Pecan Street's selection to implement this transformative technology is expected to have far-reaching effects well beyond Delaware's borders, offering a promising solution to pressing energy challenges.