Energy Systems Integration Facility
R&D Magazine's 2014
Laboratory of the Year.
NREL's multistory Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) provides laboratory and office space for approximately 200 NREL researchers and support staff. The 182,500-ft2 building houses research to overcome challenges related to the interconnection of distributed energy systems and the integration of renewable energy technologies into the electricity grid.
View the Welcome to the ESIF video on NREL's Public Relations channel on YouTube.
Explore the interactive graphic below to learn about the ESIF's laboratories and capabilities. Click on the numbered areas to find videos or photos of the facility with brief descriptions and links to fact sheets with more detailed specifications.
Power Systems Integration Laboratory
Research in the Power Systems Integration Laboratory focuses on the development and testing of large-scale distributed energy systems for grid-connected, standalone, and microgrid applications. The laboratory can accommodate large power system components, such as inverters for PV and wind systems, diesel and natural gas generators, battery packs, microgrid interconnection switchgear, and vehicles.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Power Systems Integration Laboratory fact sheet.
Smart Power Laboratory
Research in the Smart Power Laboratory focuses on the development and integration of smart technologies, including distributed and renewable energy resources and smart energy management. The 5,300-ft2 laboratory is designed to be highly flexible and configurable to enable a range of smart power activities—from developing advanced inverters and power converters to testing residential- and commercial-scale meters and control technologies.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Smart Power Laboratory fact sheet.
Energy Storage Laboratory
At the Energy Storage Laboratory, research focuses on the integration of energy storage systems (stationary and vehicle-mounted) and their interconnection with the utility grid. Focusing on battery technologies but also hosting ultracapacitors and other storage technologies, the laboratory provides the resources necessary to develop, test, and prove energy storage system performance and compatibility with distributed energy systems.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Storage Laboratory fact sheet.
Electrical Characterization Laboratory
Electrical Characterization Laboratory research focuses on the detailed electrical characterization of components and systems. This lab allows researchers to test the ability of equipment, using standard and advanced fuels such as hydrogen, to withstand high voltage surges and high current faults.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Electrical Characterization Laboratory fact sheet.
Energy Systems Integration Laboratory
The Energy Systems Integration Laboratory provides a flexible, renewable-ready platform for research, development, and testing of state-of-the-art hydrogen-based and other energy storage systems. The focus of the lab is assessment of technical readiness, performance characterization, and research to help industry move toward optimal renewable-based production and efficient use of hydrogen.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Systems Integration Laboratory fact sheet.
Thermal Systems Process and Components Laboratory
The focus of the Thermal Systems Process and Components Laboratory is to research, develop, test, and evaluate new techniques for thermal energy storage relevant to utility-scale concentrating solar power plants. The lab accommodates test systems for evaluating heat exchangers and thermal energy storage devices. Four test bays are available for the evaluation and future deployment of 30-kW thermal systems with alternative heat transfer fluids.
Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory
Researchers in the Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory investigate materials that can be used as high-temperature heat transfer fluids or thermal energy storage media in concentrating solar power plants.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory fact sheet.
Optical Characterization and Thermal Systems Laboratory
The Optical Characterization and Thermal Systems Laboratory is used for optical characterization of large solar concentration devices. Concentrating solar power mirror panels and concentrating solar systems are tested. There is an emphasis on measurement of parabolic trough mirror panels.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Optical Characterization Laboratory fact sheet.
Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory
The Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory supports NREL's fuel cell and electrochemical cell research. The lab is used for the manufacture of components for fuel cells and electrochemical cells using a variety of techniques. Fabricated components include catalysts, thin-film and gas diffusion electrodes, and membrane electrode assemblies.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory fact sheet.
The Manufacturing Laboratory is focused on the development of methods and technologies that will assist manufacturers of hydrogen, fuel cell, and other renewable energy technologies to scale up their capabilities to meet Department of Energy and industry targets. Specifically, its focus is on the development and validation of quality-control techniques to assist manufacturers of low- and high-temperature fuel cells in the transition from low- to high-volume production for cells and stacks.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Manufacturing Laboratory fact sheet.
Materials Characterization Laboratory
Research in the Materials Characterization Laboratory focuses on the physical and photoelectrochemical characterization of novel materials. In this laboratory, unknown samples are characterized by identifying and quantifying molecular species present through the implementation of a suite of analytical instrumentation and techniques.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Materials Characterization Laboratory fact sheet.
Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory
The research focus in the Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory is on evaluating electrochemical properties of novel materials and understanding and delineating the reaction mechanisms to provide practical solutions to fuel cell commercialization issues of cost, performance, and durability. The lab also supports the development of new tools and techniques for electrochemical characterization.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory fact sheet.
Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory
At the Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory, researchers develop, test, and evaluate the performance of commercial and developing hydrogen sensor technologies to support the needs of the emerging hydrogen infrastructure. Information gained from the laboratory will aid in senesor manufacturing and be used in codes and standards development.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory fact sheet.
Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory
The state-of-the-art Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory supports fuel cell research and development projects through in-situ fuel cell testing. Testing capabilities include single-cell fuel cells and fuel cell stacks.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory fact sheet.
Energy Systems High Pressure Test Laboratory
The purpose of the Energy Systems High Pressure Test Laboratory is to safely test high pressure hydrogen components. High pressure tests are performed on hydrogen components primarily for the validation of new codes and standards for high-pressure hydrogen applications.
For detailed laboratory specifications, download the Energy Systems High Pressure Test Laboratory fact sheet.
ESIF Control Room
The Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system in the ESIF monitors and controls research facility-based processes and gathers and disseminates real-time data for collaboration and visualization. In the ESIF control room, researchers can see the electrical bus, close switches, and checkout grid simulators.
Energy Integration Visualization Room
In the Energy Integration Visualization Room at the ESIF, researchers and partners can visualize experiments being performed in the electricity, thermal, and fuel labs. The Energy Integration Visualization Room uses multiple projectors whose images are blended together, which enables researchers to have one large high-definition screen instead of a set of smaller, separately controlled displays.
For more information, download the Energy Integration Visualization fact sheet.
National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center
The National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center at the ESIF plays a crucial role in NREL's independent, third-party analysis of hydrogen fuel cell technologies in real-world operation. The center is designed for secure management, storage, and processing of proprietary data from industry. While the raw data are secured by NREL to protect commercially sensitive and proprietary information, individualized analysis results are provided to the partners who supplied the data.
For more information, download the National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center fact sheet.
High Performance Computing Data Center
The High Performance Computing Data Center in the ESIF is designed to be one of the most energy efficient data centers in the world, featuring warm water liquid cooling and waste heat capture and re-use. The data center will serve the breadth of NREL's mission, greatly expanding the laboratory's capabilities in modeling and simulation necessary to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
For more information, download the High Performance Computing Data Center fact sheet.
Research Electrical Distribution Bus (REDB) - AC and DC
Thermal Distribution Bus
Fuel Distribution Bus
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System
The Insight Center in the ESIF uses advanced visualization technology to provide on-site and remote viewing of experimental data, high-resolution visual imagery, and large-scale simulation data. The Collaboration Room provides multiple workspaces in which researchers and partners from all disciplines can interactively visualize highly complex, large-scale data, systems, and operations. In the Visualization Room, large-scale imagery conveys vast amounts of visual data simultaneously.
- Power Systems
- Smart Power
- Energy Storage
- Electrical Characterization
- Energy Systems
- Energy Systems
- Energy Systems Sensor
- Fuel Cell Development
- High-Pressure Testing
Hardware-in-the-Loop at Megawatt-Scale Power: Megawatt-scale power-in-the-loop allows researchers and manufacturers to conduct integration tests at full power and actual load levels in real-time simulations and evaluate component and system performance before going to market.
High Performance Computing Data Center: Petascale computing at the High Performance Computing Data Center enables unprecedented large-scale modeling and simulation of material properties, processes, and fully integrated systems that would otherwise be too expensive, too dangerous, or even impossible to study by direct experimentation.
Uniquely Connected: Each lab in the ESIF has its own niche with different kinds of equipment and functionality fostering research on all aspects of energy integration. The Research Electrical Distribution Bus, the ultimate power integration circuit, is made up of two AC and two DC ring buses that connect multiple sources of energy and interconnect "plug-and-play" testing components in all the labs.
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System: Integrated throughout the ESIF, a SCADA system monitors and controls the Research Electrical Distribution Bus operations and safety and gathers real-time, high-resolution data for collaboration and visualization.
Data Analysis and Visualization: Analysis and visualization capabilities at the ESIF go beyond what is found in a typical utility operations center. Fully integrated with hardware-in-the-loop at power capabilities, an electrical distribution bus, a SCADA system, and petascale computing, the ESIF allows researchers and NREL partners to visualize complex systems and operations in a completely virtual environment.
NREL sponsored ESIF workshops to solicit insight from energy stakeholders and potential partners on the design and functionality of the facility, to identify priority R&D needs related to transforming our nation's energy system, and to raise awareness of the ESIF's innovative capabilities and partnering opportunities.
News and Media Contacts
Find ESIF news and information for the media in the Energy Systems Integration Facility newsroom.
To learn more about the Energy Systems Integration Facility, contact Carolyn Elam by email or by phone at 303-275-3036.