The U.S. Department of Energy announced this week a $4 million award to Austin Energy, a publicly owned electric utility, and its partners, which include Tesla Energy, for the ‘Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV’ (SHINES) project under the Energy Department’s Grid Modernization Initiative.

The Austin SHINES project has the ambitious goal to demonstrate a solution adaptable to any region and market structure that offers a credible pathway to a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of 14¢/kWh for solar energy when combined with storage capacity.

It also aims to demonstrate to electric utilities that distributed energy resource (DER) assets, such as solar and energy storage, are part of an “integrated, interconnected grid system and that the benefits of these resources are maximized only when they are holistically coordinated with other grid assets.”

The project will take the form of more than 3 megawatts of distributed storage, smart solar inverters, a DER control platform, and other enabling technologies utilizing customer and utility locations and multiple aggregation models.

Austin Energy and partners – 1Energy Systems, Clean Power Research, ConnectDER, ERCOT, Ideal Power Converters, Landis & Gyr, Pecan Street, Inc., Samsung SDI, Solar Edge, Tesla – will design, develop, and install the systems.

If achieved, a LCOE of 14¢/kWh would be a significant improvement which could make solar and energy storage competitive in many more markets, and therefore accelerate the penetration of solar.

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