The Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) is a substantial scale-up in experimental capability from existing research platforms, operating up to the 2-MW scale and allowing for research in a more realistic environment at the 20-MW scale.

Large concrete research pads with electrical switchgear, metering, and data acquisition equipment.

The 2-MW capabilities of the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), located at NREL's South Table Mountain Campus, are connected to its Flatirons Campus, which allows us to work at higher voltages and scales. The scale of the ARIES platform is further amplified by a virtual emulation environment powered by Kestrel, NREL's 44-petaflop supercomputer housed at the ESIF, to study system sizes and configurations that go beyond hardware capabilities. ARIES supports U.S. Department of Energy 2035 and 2050 goals for decarbonizing the economy.

Core Capabilities

ARIES core capabilities include:

  • Unique, state-of-the art research equipment to support integrated energy research, analysis, modeling, and hardware experiments, including six research pads, advanced distribution management system test bedcyber range, power electronic grid interface, a 20-MW controllable grid interface, digital real-time simulation, and behind-the-meter storage

  • A 44-petaflop high-performance computer to break through existing limitations and achieve metropolitan- and regional-scale research resolution

  • The ability to create, prove, and validate complex energy systems by interconnecting hardware and software that imitate renewable energy configurations and solutions for carbon-free energy and transportation systems

  • Interconnected grid-scale devices and distributed energy resources for highest-fidelity experimentation

  • A team of national laboratory experts with a depth and breadth of knowledge in energy systems integration and clean energy innovation at the leading edge nationally and internationally

  • Emulation ability at a scale unlike any other so researchers can validate clean energy technologies with higher confidence.

These research capabilities can prepare us for the power systems of the future by emulating the world outside, and upcoming partnerships will show what is really possible with ARIES and expand the system boundary beyond the grid.

Additional Capabilities

The Energy Systems Integration Facility, or ESIF, houses an unparalleled collection of state-of-the-art capabilities to study clean energy technologies at scales up to 2 MW. Connected by common infrastructure, the ESIF's laboratories offer:

U.S. Secretary of Energy Granholm tours the Energy Systems Integration Facility.
  • Hardware-in-the-loop up to 2 MW

  • A research electrical distribution bus that comprises two AC and two DC ring buses, is easily and quickly configurable, and connects multiple sources of energy, loads, and plug-and-play components

  • Supervisory control and data acquisition systems to monitor and control the research electrical distribution bus operations, safety, and resilience and gather real-time, high-resolution data for collaboration and visualization

  • A high-performance computing data center with peta-scale computing for large-scale numerical modeling

  • Data analysis and visualization tools that allow researchers and partners to see and understand complex systems and operations in a completely virtual environment

  • A communication system for cyber R&D.

Capabilities at NREL's Flatirons Campus allows for research at the 20-MW scale and beyond, which represents the interface between the distribution and bulk power systems. It offers:

Aerial view of NREL’s Flatirons Campus and grid integration research pads
  • Hardware-in-the-loop up to 20 MW

  • Medium-voltage (13.2-kV) research grid infrastructure that allows selected assets to be interconnected on an isolated, stand-alone grid; on an emulated grid; or with the utility

  • A controllable grid interface that creates a customized, controllable research grid with diverse grid conditions and emulation capabilities isolated from the utility grid

  • Devices and system infrastructure, including:

    • Grid integration research pads with power connections up to 4 MW each

    • Electrical switchgear, metering, and data acquisition equipment to connect devices to the utility grid, research grid, and other assets

    • Wind turbine and solar photovoltaic technology in various sizes

    • A megawatt-scale energy storage system and load bank

  • A custom, medium-voltage data acquisition system that includes dozens of real-time, global positioning system-synchronized, modular measurement nodes located at all power devices and strategic electrical interconnection points across the site.

The Virtual Emulation Environment—which includes control, communication, and power system layers—is connected to the ESIF and Flatirons Campus capabilities. It offers:

U.S. Department of Energy Chief Information Officer Ann Dunkin views the high-performance computing systems Kestrel.
  • A digital real-time simulation platform capable of emulating timescales between 50 μs and 200 ns that can be used to perform controller-hardware-in-the-loop and power-hardware-in-the-loop to emulate real-world events in actual time steps

  • A controllable grid interface that emulates grid dynamics at capacities up to 20 MW and can be integrated with the digital real-time simulation cluster to emulate the dynamics of bulk power generation and the transmission grid exceeding 20 MW

  • A cyber range that provides capabilities related to emulation, co-simulation, and visualization of energy systems, including cybersecurity events

  • Flexible, at-scale interconnectivity and communications that include 100 hardware-in-the-loop nodes (gradually increasing to 10,000 nodes using a digital real-time simulation cluster and later to more than 1 million nodes via high-performance computing connectivity) and connectivity to the Department of Energy's Energy Sciences Network to connect with other national laboratories and industry partners.