Petra Solar lands $3 million smart grid contract from U.S. DOE

The U.S. Dept. of Energy has awarded Petra Solar a $3 million contract to commercialize its technology for the nation's energy grid.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

The U.S. Dept. of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories has awarded New Jersey-based Petra Solar a $3 million contract to commercialize its technology for the nation's energy grid.

Part of the DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Program, the contract will help Petra continue to develop electric grid stabilization, micro-grid and smart grid technologies with the goal of helping utility companies manage a massive increase in renewable energy sources.

Petra is known for its SunWave distributed solar generation systems that are grid-tied and pole-mounted. The company currently has a $200 million contract with New Jersey utility company PSE&G to install the system on street lights and utility poles across the state.

Petra says it has focused on two research areas:

  • Help utilities monitor and control solar electricity as part of the mix of energy sources.
  • Help utilities prevent grid instability that comes from using an intermittent alternative energy source.

The Stage 3 contract helps the company move its technology from the lab to the field in pursuit of commercialization. Specifically, it will help push the company's grid stabilization and micro-grid technologies -- which help utilities control solar in the energy mix -- through development, lab qualifications and field trials to a production launch planned for 2011.

Petra raked in $3 million of $8.5 million total in contracts awarded as part of this stage. The DOE selected it and three other projects because they had the highest likelihood of commercialization.

The ultimate goal of the program: to accelerate the integration of solar PV technologies into "an intelligent electric grid" -- a smart grid, according to the DOE.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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