California-based solar company Sunpower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB) will use a grant from the state to research photovoltaic (PV) energy storage for large commercial applications.
The $1.8 million grant from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is the second round of funding from the California Solar Initiative Research, Development, Deployment and Demonstration (CSI RD&D) Program.
SunPower will partner with three energy storage companies, Ice Energy, Xtreme Power and ZBB Energy (NYSE Amex: ZBB), to establish a pilot program for demonstrating the integration of advanced energy storage systems in combination with existing PV systems for commercial customers. Working with a "major retailer," SunPower plans to demonstrate the economic and operational benefits of combining PV with each of the partners' storage devices.
"Rooftop solar is affordable today and growing rapidly in cities all across America," said Jim Pape, SunPower president, residential and commercial. "SunPower is excited to work with PG&E, KEMA, Sandia National Laboratories, and our storage partners to evaluate how to make solar power even more valuable during peak energy periods."
The CPUC California Solar Initiative (CSI) has a goal to create 1,940 megawatts (MW) of new, solar-produced electricity by 2016, moving the state toward a cleaner energy future and helping to lower the cost of solar systems for consumers.
The CSI budget is $2.2 billion over 10 years, and has five distinct program components. The RD&D program, one component of the CSI Program, has an overall budget of $50 million and aims to achieve California's goal of creating a vibrant solar industry. This program provides grants to fund solar research and demonstration projects that will measurably reduce the cost and accelerate the installation of solar and other distributed technologies that could employ solar for generation, storage, or that could reduce the use of natural gas.