What is Energy Systems Integration?
Energy systems integration (ESI) brings together the wide range of energy carriers—electricity, thermal sources, and fuels—with other infrastructures, such as water and transportation. Where most energy sources, delivery systems, and demand-response programs are treated as stand-alone technologies today, ESI examines how they can optimally work together as a system.
Preparing for the Smart Grid
The smart grid employs two-way communication between utilities and their customers while giving utilities more control over their electric delivery systems. NREL's research in energy systems integration will prepare more technologies for the smart grid while helping the smart grid run efficiently and reliably.
NREL's Energy System Integration Facility (ESIF) is one of the only test facilities in the world that integrates electric, thermal, and fuel systems with high-performance modeling and simulation capabilities.
The ESIF offers megawatt-scale hardware-in-the-loop testing with actual or simulated electrical devices, a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system to monitor and control operations, and unique analysis and visualization capabilities, as shown on the home page of this website.
Evaluating Fuel Cells
The ESIF's National Fuel Cell Technology Evaluation Center plays a crucial role in NREL's independent, third-party analysis of hydrogen fuel cell technologies in real-world operation. The center securely manages proprietary data from industry while providing individualized analysis results to the partners that supplied the data.
NREL's 1.3-petaFLOP Peregrine supercomputer is both a key computational resource for NREL's research and a practical demonstration of energy-efficient computing. Cooled with warm water, the computer generates enough hot water to heat the Energy Systems Integration Facility, saving $200,000 per year in heating costs.
Pictured: U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz (front), NREL Director Dan Arvizu (center), and Computational Science Center Director Steve Hammond (back).