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NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory
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Data Collection and Visualization Projects

NREL researchers work with utilities and other organizations, such as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the U.S. Army, to create data collection and visualization scenarios that help them to understand and effectively manage distributed energy integration systems.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

As part of a larger project with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), NREL is using its data collection and visualization expertise to display the results of the project in real time.

Screenshot of NREL's data collection and visualization program displaying a live data feed in 3D from the SMUD Anatolia Circuit in Sacramento, California. Screenshot of NREL's data collection and visualization program showing graphic measurements from the SMUD Anatolia Circuit in Sacramento, California

Screenshots of NREL's data collection and visualization program displaying information from the SMUD Anatolia Circuit in Sacramento, California

Distribution Monitoring Units

NREL has developed compact and rugged Distribution Monitoring Units (DMUs) specifically for metering devices connected to the electrical distribution system. Each DMU measures:

  • Voltage and current phasors
  • Real, reactive, and apparent power
  • Power factor
  • Temperature.

The DMUs, which are designed to withstand high temperatures and moist conditions often encountered in field deployments, can be equipped to transmit measurements in real time through an Internet connection. Twelve prototype units have been deployed into a circuit in Sacramento, California, and deployments are planned for several other circuits.

NREL also developed a DMU Data Collection Network to collect information from DMUs and display them with the data visualization software in four basic steps:

  1. DMU measurements are transmitted wirelessly and securely
  2. The data streams pass through the Internet to a Data Concentrator
  3. The Data Concentrator time-aligns these streams and condenses them into one data set containing all of the measurement data
  4. The concentrated data stream is sent to an archive, then on to data visualization applications and any other end users requiring live data feeds.