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Power Systems Engineering

Power systems engineering at NREL means working with the electricity industry to optimize strategies for effectively interconnecting renewable resources and emerging energy efficiency technologies with the electric power system. Power systems engineering focuses on resolving grid integration barriers to sustainable, economic, secure, and reliable electricity based on a paradigm of high penetration of renewable energy, coordinated and intelligent cyber-control, and consumer services.

NREL's power systems engineering research is conducted by NREL's Power Systems Engineering Center in the following three areas.

Transmission Grid Integration

Transmission grid integration requires data, analysis, and techniques to increase utility understanding of transmission grid integration issues and confidence in the reliability of emerging renewable energy applications.

Areas of focus include:

  • Power system operations
  • Power system planning
  • Wholesale electricity market design
  • Generator modeling
  • Operational forecasting
  • Equipment testing.

Distributed Grid Integration

Distributed grid integration requires collaborative R&D in a range of distributed generation areas, including interconnection engineering and standards, systems integration engineering and testing, interconnection interface applications, and policy and regulatory analysis.

Key capability areas include:

  • Modeling and simulation of power systems and power electronics for distributed energy systems
  • Power-hardware-in-the-loop
  • Power electronic converters
  • Feedback control
  • Standards and codes development.

Resource Assessment and Forecasting

Every area of the country can take advantage of energy systems integration technologies, but some renewable energy technologies are better suited for particular areas than others. By combining resource information with accurate spatial and temporal resource characterizations and interfacing the data with analytical models, our experts provide tools to accurately assess renewable energy density as it varies with time and location and information on how to design efficient, integrated renewable energy systems for central and distributed power production.

Key capability areas include:

  • Solar resource measurement
  • Solar resource modeling
  • Data assimilation, analysis, dissemination
  • Codes and standards.