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Energy Systems Integration Facility Videos Text Versions

Below are the text versions of the videos located on the Energy Systems Integration Facility Web page.

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Power Systems Integration Laboratory Video

The Power Systems Integration Laboratory focuses on developing and testing distributed energy systems for grid-connected, standalone, and microgrid applications up to a megawatt scale. The lab accommodates large equipment such as utility-scale inverters, microgrid devices, and vehicles. It also includes carbon-monoxide exhaust systems and a diesel storage tank to allow safe indoor operation.

Smart Power Laboratory Video

The Smart Power Laboratory focuses on integrating residential and commercial systems including photovoltaics, efficient appliances, and building automation—technologies that enable the sustainable communities of the future. Buildings use nearly three quarters of the electricity produced each year in the U.S. and are expected to provide the majority of energy savings going forward. The technology created and tested in the lab will provide advanced functionalities to consumers and utilities and lead to more efficient integration of renewable energy into the smarter electric grid. For example, technologies are being developed that help turn off lights when people are not at home and operate energy-intensive appliances when electricity costs are low.

The Smart Power Laboratory focuses on integrating residential and commercial systems including photovoltaics, efficient appliances, and building automation. The technology created and tested in the lab will provide advanced functionalities to consumers and utilities and lead to more efficient integration of renewable energy into the smarter electric grid. For example, technologies are being developed that help turn off lights when people are not at home and operate energy-intensive appliances when electricity costs are low.

In the Smart Power Lab, NREL has developed a unique capability that enables energy research across a range of scales, from a community of buildings to individual appliances. The lab’s three building modules can be studied together to observe their impact on a utility distribution circuit, or each building can be operated independently. Within the HVAC chamber, any climate in the country and a wide range of occupant usage profiles can be explored.

Energy storage is an effective solution for some utility challenges, such as peak load. Air conditioners are housed in controlled environmental chambers to measure their peak energy use and to evaluate the benefits of pre-cooling a home. Researchers are studying how cooling can be shifted into lower-cost or more efficient times of the day, and how water heater energy use can be offset by preheating the tank to a higher temperature during off-peak periods.

Each home in the Smart Power Laboratory has a full suite of major appliances. Advanced appliances are a major contributor to energy efficiency and utility demand response; many can postpone up to 80% of their energy use while prices are high. Researchers are evaluating retrofit controls, appliances, and analytics to ensure they not only save energy but make a home more convenient and comfortable for the occupants. Each building has its own electrical panel and smart meter, which can mimic the utility provider by sending smart grid signals to the homes in the Smart Power Lab.

Plug loads and lighting are a key research focus, as they comprise over a third of a building’s energy use and are located throughout each home. This diversity and distribution makes them challenging and costly to measure and control using today’s technologies. Energy management systems will bridge multiple communication channels and proprietary product platforms, giving homeowners a simple plug-and-play path to controlling their energy use and costs.

The homes are connected to solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations. Researchers are studying how to balance variations in renewable energy supply, and how to keep powering critical building loads during a grid outage. Utility transformers supply power to the homes, and allow measurement of how building technologies in the Smart Power Laboratory are working together with the grid to make energy systems more stable, secure, and efficient for generations to come.

Energy Storage Laboratory Video

The Energy Storage Laboratory focuses on new storage solutions for the electric grid and vehicles. Examples include storage options for solar- and wind-generated energy to balance power loads, provide backup power, and enable more reliable and widespread use of renewables. This laboratory also examines integration of electric vehicles with the grid, including optimizing charging infrastructures and controls. A drive-in environmental chamber will be available for evaluating the performance of systems under extreme ambient conditions.

Energy Systems Integration Laboratory Video

The Energy Systems Integration Laboratory provides a large, hazardous-rated facility with access to hydrogen and natural gas to investigate the integration of fuel systems, renewable energy sources and the utility grid.

The safety systems include combustible gas detection, redundant ventilation, infrared sensors, instrumentation, and control to ensure a safe operating environment for hydrogen-producing electrolyzers, compressors and fuel cell systems.

An outdoor test area provides space for a vehicle fueling station. The lab includes two bays for testing components and devices up to 15,000 psi.

Thermal Storage Process and Components Laboratory and Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory Video

In a concentrating solar power plant, thermal energy collected by solar fields can be stored in large tanks for later use. Thermal storage is essential for delivering energy when it's valued the most — including cloudy days and at night.

The Thermal Storage Process and Components Laboratory focuses on environmental performance—in a process environment—of fluids and materials for heat transfer and storage.

The Thermal Storage Materials Laboratory characterizes fluids and other materials that transfer or store heat. This lab measures the material properties including their capacity to hold heat, resist corrosion, or operate within a required temperature range.

These laboratories improve heat transfer and storage materials and components, leading to lower-cost energy from concentrating solar power plants.

Optical Characterization Laboratory Video

Mirrors collect and focus sunlight, producing high-temperature thermal energy which is used to generate electricity. The Optical Characterization Laboratory researches key qualities of these mirrors for use with power towers, parabolic troughs, and other types of concentrating solar power plants.

This lab supports the development of mirror materials and designs that improve performance, durability, and optical efficiency. These improvements can significantly reduce the overall cost of concentrating solar power systems, and are critical to their success.

Manufacturing Laboratory, Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory, and Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory Video Text Version

Fuel cells cleanly and efficiently convert hydrogen into electricity through an electrochemical process. Fuel cells offer promise in a wide range of applications including vehicles and stationary power. All of the fuel labs work together to create better fuel cells and hydrogen-related technologies from the ground up — leading to greater integration of renewable electricity and sustainable transportation.

The Manufacturing Laboratory develops rapid and non-destructive quality-control techniques to help manufacturer's scale-up production while maintaining quality.

The Fuel Cell Development and Test Laboratory focuses on the performance and durability of single fuel cells and fuel cell stacks.

The Energy Systems Fabrication Laboratory synthesizes advanced catalysts and polymer electrolytes, and fabricates fuel cell components from these materials.

Materials Characterization Laboratory, Electrochemical Characterization Laboratory, and Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory Video

The Materials Characterization and Electrochemical Characterization Laboratories use advanced diagnostics tools for material characterization on fuel cell materials.

The Energy Systems Sensor Laboratory conducts testing on sensors that detect hydrogen leaks, in addition to other components.

Currently, the labs are focused on fuels cells; however, many of the fabrication and characterization capabilities apply to other energy storage devices, such as batteries.

High Performance Computing Data Center Visualization Video

Highly-advanced computing generates too much data to analyze using traditional methods. Seeing information through simulations drives leading research.

That is why the High Performance Computing Data Center is critical for understanding energy systems integration. Computing at the petaflop scale makes it possible to research through visualization and modeling. This can save years of research time, and lowers the risk and cost of early field testing. For example, we can simulate a complete wind farm with all the parameters of an actual location.

This data center is enabling new science and advancing research by providing a deeper understanding of material structures and relationships.

Insight Center Video

The Insight Center at the ESIF features state-of-the-art tools for visualizing and collaborating on renewable energy research, both on site and remotely. There are two unique spaces. In the Collaboration Room, researchers from multiple disciplines visualize and interact with complex 3D simulations. Researchers can actually step into and be immersed in their data. In the Visualization Room, large-scale imagery conveys vast amounts of visual data simultaneously. The Insight Center is a new pathway to advanced renewable energy knowledge.