San Juan Capistrano, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) announced that the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) will receive a $39 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve the integration of renewable energy sources into the power grid. UC San Diego will build a first-of-its-kind testbed called DERConnect that will allow universities, utilities, industry leaders, and other entities to better understand how to integrate renewable energy sources into the power grid. The major driver for the project is the need to decarbonize the electrical grid, protect it from cybersecurity attacks, and make it more resilient
“As we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the climate crisis, it’s critical that we strengthen our ability to integrate renewable energy sources into our power grid,” said Rep. Levin. “I’m very proud that UC San Diego is leading innovative research to allow institutions across the country to better integrate solar panels, wind turbines, and other renewable energy sources in the power grid. I will continue to advocate for federal investment in this research and the world-class climate and energy scientists who call the 49th District home.”
“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 UC San Diego and the project’s principal investigator.
DERConnect will include more than 2500 distributed energy resources, or DERs, on the campus’ microgrid, with its fuel cell and solar panels, a dozen classroom and office buildings, as well as 300 charging stations for electric vehicles. It will also entail the construction of a new energy storage testing facility on the East Campus. An upgrade to the microgrid will give researchers real-time control over heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, lighting, solar panels, battery storage and EVs. The testbed’s control center will be housed in Robinson Hall on the UC San Diego campus, which will be turned into a fully controllable building that can be disconnected from the campus’ grid at any time.
The full project abstract is available here.