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September 2012

Special Edition: NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility eNewsletter

The Energy Systems Integration Facility eNewsletter is a quarterly publication, but there is so much going on we had to share the news early!

At the top of the news, HP and Intel have been selected to help NREL create one of the world's fastest and most efficient high performance computing (HPC) data centers. The HPC data center will be located in the ESIF and will support R&D efforts in energy systems integration, renewable energy, and energy efficiency across the entire campus. We're also exited to announce the launch of several new ESI websites on that include an interactive online tour of the ESIF laboratories and an interactive graphic that explains the unique system-of-systems approach NREL is taking to energy systems integration.

In this Issue

  • Feature Articles
    • High Performance Computing Data Center
    • Tour the ESIF Online
    • New Energy Systems Integration Website
    • Energy Systems Integration Whitepaper Released
  • Construction Update
    • As of September 1, 2012

Feature Articles

High Performance Computing Data Center

An architectural rendering of a cross section view of the High Performance Computing Data Center in the ESIF. The illustration shows a three level building with the words Information, Circulation and Collaborations permeating through all three levels.

Cross section view into the ESIF HPC data center.
Illustration courtesy of SmithGroup JJR.

The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has selected HP and Intel to provide a new high performance computer (HPC) system dedicated to energy systems integration, renewable energy research, and energy efficiency technologies. Read Press Release.

The HPC data center will initially house petascale computing capability (one million billion calculations per second) in approximately 10,000 sf2 of uninterrupted, usable machine room space. This will greatly expand NREL's capabilities in modeling and simulation necessary to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. This will also provide room for future systems that enable large-scale modeling and simulation of novel materials, biological and chemical processes, and fully integrated systems that would be too expensive, or even impossible, to study by direct experimentation.

Not only will the data center house the fastest HPC system in the world dedicated to advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, but it will also be one of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world by operating at a power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating of 1.06 or better.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated in a recent study that data centers account for about 2% of all electricity consumed in the U.S. alone—roughly equivalent to the energy used by the entire airline industry. This statistic, along with today's rapid expansion of data center designs, underscores the need for energy efficiency in data centers. The HPC data center in the ESIF will be a showcase facility demonstrating best-in-class technologies for a holistic, integrated approach to energy-efficient computing.

The HPC data center features warm water liquid cooling and waste heat capture and re-use. While traditional data centers use mechanically cooled air to keep components below 150°F, NREL is taking advantage of the heat generated by computer chips by re-using it to heat the entire ESIF building. Plans are underway to extend the heat generated by the data center to underneath nearby sidewalks (melting ice and snow during the winter) and surrounding buildings on the NREL campus.

Download the High Performance Computing Data Center fact sheet.

If you are interested in learning more about the HPC data center please contact Steven Hammond or visit NREL's ESIF webpage.

Tour the ESIF Online

Come on inside and take a look around.

The new interactive online tour of the ESIF takes you inside the building where you can explore the laboratories and learn about some of the unique capabilities of the ESIF. Simply click on the laboratory or area of the ESIF that you want to know more about and you'll access a current photo of the lab (under construction) with a brief description and a downloadable laboratory specification fact sheet.

This illustration is an architectural rendering looking down into the ESIF with the roof removed. Laboratories and areas are numbered 1 through 21. This graphic is used for the interactive online tour and users will click on the numbers to get more information about that location in the ESIF.

Illustration of a map of the ESIF.
Illustration by Matt Luckwitz.

New Energy Systems Integration Website

This illustration shows three square planes that represent the scales of ESI. From small to large: residential and commercial, campuses, cities, and communities, and national and regional. Words at the top say: ESI optimizes the design and performance of electrical, thermal, fuel, and data pathways at all scales.

Energy Systems Integration interactive animation

We are thrilled to announce NREL's new Energy Systems Integration website. Here you'll learn about how NREL is exploring a unique system-of-systems concept to energy systems integration. The website features an interactive graphic to help you learn more about how energy systems integration works on multiple levels with electricity, thermal, fuel, and data systems.

Visit the new Energy Systems Integration website for information on:

Energy Systems Integration Whitepaper

In addition to the Energy Systems Integration website, NREL has just published a new whitepaper to educate and inform stakeholders and other audiences about the Energy Systems Integration vision. Download Energy Systems Integration: A Convergence of Ideas.

The whitepaper discusses how, by focusing on the optimization of energy systems across multiple pathways and scales, we can better understand and make use of potential co-benefits that increase reliability and performance, reduce cost, and minimize environmental impacts.

The Energy Systems Integration whitepaper has several authors: Ben Kroposki, Bobi Garrett, Stuart Macmillan, Brent Rice, and Connie Komomua of NREL; Mark O'Malley of University College Dublin; and Dan Zimmerle of Colorado State University.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the state-of-the-art laboratories planned for the ESIF, please contact Carolyn Elam or visit NREL's ESIF webpage.

Construction Update

As of September 1, 2012

  • 1 MVA AC+DC Grid Simulation System has been installed. Read AMETEK press release.
  • Most of the ESIF exterior is complete; the focus now is on the lab and interior finishes.