Utah Clean Energy announced it was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to participate in a collaborative research effort to explore new ways solar energy can improve the affordability, reliability and resiliency of the nation’s electric grid.

Utah Clean Energy has teamed up with three pioneering local governments—Salt Lake City, Park City and Moab—to pave the way for integrating more solar energy throughout the state. This collaborative group comprises the “Renewable Electricity Impacts and Solutions” team, which is one of only nine teams selected nationally to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Innovation Network.

“We selected teams that are experimenting with promising ideas to use solar power to improve the future of grid security and reliability in their communities,” said Kristen Ardani, who leads the Innovation Network at NREL.

Utah Clean Energy’s participation in the Solar Energy Innovation Network will include financial, analytical, and facilitation support as they work to anticipate and address new challenges and opportunities stemming from solar energy and other distributed energy technologies in Utah.

Salt Lake City, Park City and Moab have each set forth ambitious renewable energy goals. These cities are partnering with Rocky Mountain Power to procure renewables for the majority of their municipal use.  Through participation in the Solar Energy Innovation Network, these local governments and Utah Clean Energy will work with experts at NREL and other Innovation Network partners to assess options and pathways to cost-effectively integrate renewable energy as penetrations increase. As part of the initiative, Rocky Mountain Power is working with the team to further advance renewable energy in Utah.

“Despite ground-breaking local government commitments to clean energy, there are still technical hurdles we must address as we transition to renewable energy. The Solar Energy Innovation Network provides a unique opportunity to partner with a national laboratory and connect their deeply technical knowledge with local experts and local solutions who are working to clear those hurdles,” Kate Bowman, Utah Clean Energy’s project lead.

This partnership, coupled with technical assistance from NREL and other partners, will allow participants to identify and prioritize the challenges and opportunities for diversifying Utah’s energy mix with clean energy resources while minimizing cost, ensuring reliability, and increasing resiliency.

“This partnership is an exciting opportunity for local governments to work together on best practices for our energy future, and to also leverage the expertise of NREL, Rocky Mountain Power, and Utah Clean Energy,” states Park City Mayor, Andy Beerman. “Park City has been on the forefront of implementing renewable energy, energy efficiency and transportation solutions for our community, and we look forward to working with this collaborative to get to the next level of innovation.”

NREL is operating the Solar Energy Innovation Network with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. NREL pursues fundamental research and development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies to transform the way we use energy.