A research team at the University of California, Riverside works on “The New Grid” project to develop smart grid strategies. Researchers will develop new algorithms and strategies for when to use and store the energy produced by solar panels.
A team of 80 scientists and five research groups at UC Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), led by Professor Matt Barth, is working on a project called “The New Grid.” The project will integrate solar PV, energy storage, and a local utility for electric transportation.
The project is expected to break ground this fall.
About two-thirds of a large parking lot at the Bourns Electronics research facility in Riverside will be covered with PV panels that will double as carports, generating about 0.5 MW of solar. UCR’s CE-CERT facilities are on the Bourns property a few miles from the UCR campus.
Bourns, installer SolarMax, and the Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) are participating in the project. Other participants include the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and a significant investor, Winston Chung, who will supply the lithium batteries for the project.
Batteries will play a crucial role in the project. Barth said, “The idea is that Southern California will be able to have this type of system so that we can take better advantage of solar energy and support electric transportation.”
The New Grid will include four level-two EV chargers capable of charging light to moderate passenger vehicles, and a level-three charging station for a trolley serving the UC campus and surrounding locations.
“What’s really unique about this is that it will serve as a test bed,” said Barth. The team will work on developing new algorithms and strategies for when to use and store the energy produced by the solar panels.
He also says the system is unique in the way that it focuses on matching the supply and distribution component with actual usage. The test project will benefit users but will also have important benefits for utilities. “The utility companies realize they have to do some sort of storage in order to take care of their infrastructure,” said Barth.