Announcing the Third Round of the DER Innovation Fund Competition

Duke Energy renewables
November 02, 2017

The Sustainability Collaborative is happy to announce that the Duke Energy Renewables Innovation Fund competition is now open. The Fund is a partnership between Duke Energy Renewables and GW to support energy research by GW faculty and their associates. The competition takes a broad approach to the topic and encourages a wide range of proposals. Researchers can address energy directly or through such closely related topics as water, food, cities, climate, and policy making. Awards can be as large as $85,000 for a one-year project and the deadline for submission is January 19, 2018.

Find details on how to apply here.

A key requirement of the grant is that each research team be inter-disciplinary. Collaborations are encouraged across campus, including engineers, scientists, social scientists, humanities and arts faculty, and scholars working in the business, law, media, professional, and health schools. Unexpected and unusual collaborations are encouraged!

The previous two rounds of the competition have produced effective results. The winners of last year’s competition, Chemist Stuart Licht and the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health’s Peter LaPuma, just submitted their work for the second round of the Carbon XPrize on October 10. They are one of 27 semi-finalists and the finalists in that competition will be announced in February 2018. Their project is developing a pathway to mitigate the ongoing, growing consequences of climate change by directly converting the greenhouse gas CO2 into valuable carbon nanofibers.

The results of the first round of winners are now on the Sustainability Collaborative website. A Living Laboratory to Study Solar Farms intertwined research and education by delivering a case study of Duke Energy Renewables solar farms' technical, financial, and environmental facets and integrating real-world energy applications into graduate and undergraduate courses. The Living Lab started with a 3-day site visit by three faculty and eight students to the DER Pasquotank solar farm in Elizabeth City, NC, and the DER headquarters and remote monitoring center in Charlotte, NC. After the site visit, the team created case studies examining the financial and environmental implications of the project.

The second project published a Handbook for Developing Community Solar Projects for Low Income Residents. This handbook is intended to help municipalities conceptualize and initiate community solar projects, with special attention to driving down the costs, for example, by using brownfield sites, leveraging grants and innovative financing, and equitably applying the benefits to aid those in need.

Finally, a combination of faculty from GW and C2ES examined Microgrid Financing: Challenges and Solutions. This project detailed the financial, technical and legal barriers to using microgrids as a mechanism for integrating renewable energy into the electric grid while also improving the overall grid’s resilience.

We look forward to receiving your proposal and further investigations.