ARPA-E announced its OPEN 2015 program awards under a highly competitive, open solicitation. NREL received two awards under this program: one to lead the development of a novel process in solar cell manufacturing; another to support the advancement of extreme-scale, offshore wind turbines.
• Ultrahigh Efficiency Photovoltaics at Ultralow Costs - NREL will lead the research into a manufacturing process for producing high quality solar cells at greatly reduced costs. NREL’s approach has the potential to cut solar cell fabrication costs by an order of magnitude less than current state-of-the-art technologies, while also achieving greater than 30% solar conversion efficiency. This can open new markets to high-efficiency solar cells that were previously unavailable due to high production costs.
• 50 MW Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotors for Wind Energy - Researchers from NREL are part of a team led by the University of Virginia that is designing 50-megawatt, extreme-scale wind turbines. These huge, unconventional turbines could significantly expand access to offshore wind energy. NREL will help design the turbine’s unique blades, and determine the potential overall systems cost savings for the turbine design.
Also, under its Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) program, ARPA-E announced a total of 12 innovative projects, including two at NREL. The NODES program has a goal of enabling renewable penetration at a level of 50% or greater.
• Real-time Optimization and Control of Next-Generation Distribution Infrastructure - NREL will develop a comprehensive distribution network management framework that unifies real-time voltage and frequency control at the home/distributed energy resource (DER) controllers’ level with network-wide energy management at the utility/aggregator level. The team includes NREL, Southern California Edison, California Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and the University of Minnesota.
• A Robust Distributed Framework for Flexible Power Grids - NREL will support the University of Minnesota in its efforts to develop a comprehensive approach to the challenges of widespread unpredictable renewable power generation.
And under its GRID DATA program, ARPA-E announced seven project awards. GRID DATA will develop open-access, power system models and associated data repositories. NREL received one award, partnering with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Comillas-IIT and GE Grid Services (formerly Alstom Grid).
• Synthetic Models for Advanced, Realistic Testing of Distribution systems and Scenarios (Smart-DS) - The NREL-led team will develop fully-synthetic distribution power grid models complemented by customizable, standard scenarios of technology deployment and high-resolution renewable resource data.