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$1M DOE grant supports commercial development in solar and distributed energy systems

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FAMU-FSU Engineering News

Department of Energy Small Business Innovative Research and Technology funds awarded to researchers for distributed power system development

Group doing computing
DOE Research Group meets to review results to date

The project entitled "Developing Optimal Control Technology for Distributed Energy Resources" (DOCTdER) has recently been funded by the US Department of Energy through a program which helps bridge the transfer of technology from universities to industry. The $1M Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II Grant is designed to bridge the "valley of death" for innovative startup technology companies before they seek private capital.

FAMU-FSU engineering professors Omar Faruque, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Emmanuel Collins, Mechanical Engineering, working with Nhu Energy Inc’s President and Principal Engineer, Rick Meeker, will collaborate on the development.

The Nhu Energy team will develop breakthrough control technology to drastically improve the value proposition for distributed energy resources such as solar PV, storage, electric vehicles, and price-responsive load, to enable significant improvements to electric power system resiliency, economics, and environmental impact.

Collins, Faruque, and Meeker Talk to each other
Left-right, Emmanuel Collins,Omar Faruque and Rick Meeker

According to Meeker, maximizing the value proposition for solar energy and other distributed energy resources to consumers requires a more integrated and coordinated approach to utilizing these resources on-site.

"We will be adding an optimal control solution, including enhanced and industrial utility-grade features, to the DOCTdER tool," says Meeker, "and then begin testing it under a range of real use cases in preparation for commercialization."

Meeker, President of Nhu Energy, Inc., a startup venture located in Tallahassee, FL, is working to enable a future of smart energy and smart manufacturing. He is engaged in advancing and applying control systems, energy, manufacturing, and critical systems technologies. He has been active in electric power R&D and contributions on numerous power and energy stakeholder groups and activities in the utility and defense industries, instrumentation and controls for power and process industries. Meeker was part of the core team that created a statewide university-industry energy consortium in Florida.

"When distributed generation such as solar, wind and energy storage are becoming ubiquitous and the price of electricity becomes variable, a real-time price and demand response based optimal control solution will minimize the energy bill for consumers," says Dr. Omar Faruque, the project PI for the College, "it will also help the utilities balance the supply and demand. This is a win-win situation for both parties. The project will also provide valuable experience to our students related to the development of a market based solution."