UCSD Gets $39 Million Grant for Renewable Energy Testbed

By District Energy posted 11-03-2020 13:35


Times of San Diego


UC San Diego will receive a $39 million grant to build a testbed to allow universities, utilities and industry leaders to gain a better understanding of how to integrate renewable energy resources into the power grid, it was announced Monday.

The grant from the National Science Foundation will fund construction of the testbed, dubbed DERConnect, which will allow for testing “to validate future technologies for autonomous energy grids in real-world scenarios.”

According to the university, a lack of test cases on a realistic scale has been a major hurdle to the adoption of energy sources like solar panels, wind turbines, smart buildings and electric vehicle batteries, in addition to a lack of stability as opposed to traditional energy sources, such as natural-gas power plants.

DERConnect will include more than 2,500 distributed energy resources on the campus’ microgrid, including fuel cell and solar panels, a dozen classroom and office buildings and 300 charging stations for electric vehicles. The project will also involve the construction of a new energy storage testing facility on the East Campus.

The testbed’s control center will be housed in Robinson Hall, in what will be a fully controllable building that can be disconnected from the campus’ grid at any time, according to UCSD.

“We will be replicating the entire California power grid on one campus,” said Jan Kleissl, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCSD and the project’s principal investigator.