UCF researchers from the RISES and Sustainable Coastal Systems clusters teamed up to receive 1 million dollar grant from DOE to assess how Photovoltaic systems and energy storage can help vulnerable communities across Central Florida and in the Panhandle to become more resilient to impacts from extreme weather events. The interdisciplinary team includes researchers from the Department of Material Science and Engineering, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Civil, Environmental & Construction Engineering, the School of Public Administration, and the Florida Solar Energy Center.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Renewables Advancing Community Energy Resilience (RACER) is a $33 million funding program supporting projects that enable communities to use solar and solar-plus-storage to prevent power disruptions caused by extreme weather and other events and to rapidly restore electricity if it goes down.

Projects are designed to foster engagement and ongoing communication among multiple stakeholders such as utilities, municipal planners, emergency responders, community groups, and others, especially in underserved communities located in areas vulnerable to extreme events causing frequent energy and power service disruptions. In addition, projects will develop and demonstrate rapid energy restoration technologies that can be replicated in other parts of the country.

Projects fall under three topic areas:

  • Topic Area 1: Innovative Community-Based Energy Resilience Planning – these projects will develop energy resilience planning frameworks at the community level through robust multi-stakeholder participation and collaboration.
  • Topic Area 2: Automation Strategies for Rapid Energy Restoration – these projects will develop and demonstrate sensors and communication technologies that enable rapid identification of available assets to re-energize a power system after an extreme event.
  • Topic Area 3: Innovative Solutions to Increase the Resilience and Hardening of Photovoltaic  (PV) Power Plants – these projects will advance innovative approaches to PV system hardening by using novel sensors, communications strategies, and data analytics to increase generation-side hardware resilience to minimize damage during extreme events.


By using solar-plus-storage and a variety of stakeholder partnerships, these research activities will increase the resilience of energy systems, increasing communities’ preparedness to withstand and recover rapidly from disasters. The 20 projects selected under RACER will advance innovative approaches to community energy planning and develop and demonstrate resilient clean energy technologies.


Project Name: Clean, Affordable, and Resilient Energy Systems (CARES) for Socially Vulnerable and At-Risk Communities
Location: Orlando, FL
DOE Award Amount: $1 million
Awardee Cost Share: None
Principal Investigator: Kristopher Davis
Project Description: This project is developing a geospatial framework to optimize the deployment of solar-plus-storage for the most vulnerable and at-risk communities in Central Florida and the Florida Panhandle. The research team will determine the relationship between extreme weather events and grid outages to quantify vulnerability and risk before selecting the optimal location to site solar and solar-plus-storage. Ultimately, this interdisciplinary geospatial framework can be translated and scaled to other communities around the world with the end goal of helping provide clean, affordable, and resilient energy systems to those who need them most.