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Energy Systems Integration News

A man and a woman examine wall-mounted illuminated maps of the United States.

David Mooney, director for NREL's Strategic Energy Analysis Center (left), and Robin Newmark, NREL's associate director for Energy Analysis and Decision Support (right), examine an advanced systems analysis of the impacts of high penetrations of renewable energy on the U.S. electrical grid.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

July 2015

Welcome to Energy Systems Integration News, NREL's monthly recap of the latest energy systems integration (ESI) developments at NREL and worldwide.

Have a news item we should include in our next issue? Email us at

In This Issue


Making a Computer Model of the Most Complex System Ever Built

In the coming decade, the eastern part of the North American power grid, called the Eastern Interconnection, will likely host an increasing percentage of renewable power. Understanding how it could handle that transition is the focus of an intensive, multi-year modeling project at NREL.

The project, called theEastern Renewable Generation Integration Study (ERGIS), looks ahead to the year 2026 and examines how the Eastern Interconnection might function under four future scenarios. The Eastern Interconnection runs from the east coasts of the United States and Canada all the way to the western borders of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma, while skirting around most of Texas. It serves 70% of the U.S. load and 240 million people, and consists of 50,000 transmission lines spanning 459,000 miles. In short, it's huge, and accurately modeling the entire system at five-minute intervals for an entire year has never even been attempteduntil now.

Read moreabout the project in the latest issue of NREL's Continuum Magazine.

NREL and Partners INTEGRATE to Help the Grid Accommodate More Renewables

Under the U.S. Department of Energy's Integrated Network Testbed for Energy Grid Research and Technology Experimentation (INTEGRATE) project, up to $6.5 million in federal funds is to be awarded to five technical teams whose projects aim to better enable grid integration of renewable energy. The groups hail from OMNETRIC, Smarter Grid Solutions, the Electric Power Research Institute, and the University of Delaware. INTEGRATE is to be managed by NREL, and all five projects will be tested in the Energy Systems Integration Facility.

Read more about the new partnershipsand see how Greentech Media highlighted one of the new partners in its coverage of last month's Grid Edge Live event.

Hannegan Touts Battery Technology

During a recent event in Washington D.C., NREL Associate Lab Director for ESI Dr. Bryan Hannegan called battery storage technology "the future, now." Watch a recording of the event.

As reported by Forbes, Hannegan called for more "flexibility" in the grid, one with distributed generation and storage. Hannegan also discussed the Energy Systems Integration Facility's capabilities, describing it as "a design studio [] for a future distribution system."

NREL Shows Wind, Solar Can Support EPA Goal of 30% Reduction in Carbon Emissions

A new report from NREL and collaborators describes multiple wind and solar integration studies that have found carbon dioxide emission reductions of approximately 30%the target proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Clean Power Plan (CPP).

The report is in support of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which is preparing reports to address the proposed CPP, which would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. NREL's analysis demonstrates that such a reduction has already been extensively studied, and can be reliably and cost-effectively implemented.

Read more about the report.

NREL, Clemson Collaborate on Wind Testing Facilities

NREL and Clemson University have joined forces to help the wind energy industry improve the performance of wind turbine drivetrains and better understand how the turbines can integrate more effectively with the electrical grid.

The partners will share resources and capabilities in the operation and development of testing facilities under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). NREL brings 2.5- and 5-megawatt dynamometers, as well as a controllable grid interface, to the partnership. Clemson features a drivetrain testing facility with 7.5-megawatt and 15-megawatt dynamometers, as well as a 20-megavolt ampere (MVA) grid emulator.

Read more about the collaboration.

Multi-Lab Study Provides Smart Grid Integration Requirements and Guidance for Electric Vehicles

In a recently published technical report, NREL collaborated with five other national laboratories to define plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) grid integration scenarios. The report discusses the prospect of electrified vehicles being an integral part of the smart, renewable electricity grid of the future, along with necessary grid system implementation requirements, the potential that PEVs may bring to the grid, and the potential opportunities that PEVs may support, among other topics.

Read the full report.

Want to Use NREL's HPC Resources? Requests for FY16 Allocations Due August 3

R&D projects can request an allocation of high-performance computing (HPC) resources on the ESIF supercomputer and archive storage system for the upcoming yearbut the application deadline is approaching.

The allocation period runs November 1, 2015, through October 31, 2016. Allocation requests are due August 3. Resources to be allocated include approximately 21 million node hours (nodes have 16 or 24 cores), 750 terabytes of shared data storage (/projects), and up to 1 petabyte of long-term data storage.

This allocation cycle, projects aligned with the following U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Crosscutting Activities are especially welcome: Grid Modernization, Subsurface Technology and Engineering, Energy-Water Nexus, Cybersecurity, Exascale Computing, and Supercritical Carbon Dioxide.

Allocations may be requested by completing an Allocation Request form and submitting via email to no later than August 3. Forms and additional information may be found here.

Upcoming Webinars: Kroposki Discusses ESIF Smart Grid Capabilities on July 16, Coddington Talks "Innovation for Interconnection" on July 23

Don't miss two upcoming webinars hosted by NREL ESI staff.

  • Smart Grid Research at NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility: Thursday, July 16, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. MST: In this webinar for IEEE, Dr. Ben Kroposki, Director of NREL's Power Systems Engineering Center, will discuss the unique research capabilities at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) for smart grid research. Learn more and register here.
  • Innovation for Interconnection: Utility Practices, Procedures & Mitigation Strategies, Thursday, July 23, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. MST: In this webinar for the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), NREL's Michael Coddington will share details of the NREL/Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) study of interconnection in 21 U.S. electric utilities in California and the Northeast, Central, and Southwest United States. These investor-owned, cooperative, and municipal utilities worked closely with NREL and EPRI in evaluating all of their interconnection procedures. The results were somewhat surprising in that many utilities had unique approaches to various steps of interconnection, and all were interested to learn what other utilities were doing, and what best practices might be adopted. Get more information and register here.

NREL Research Featured at IEEE PES General Meeting in Denver This Month

Attending the 2015 IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) General Meeting? Be sure to catch talks featuring NREL ESI staff.

Last month, we highlighted two NREL papers chosen as Best Conference Papers at the event. Here's another that was chosen as one of the best papers in the area of Grid Operation and Management:

  • "Evaluation of Multiple Inverter Volt-VAR Control Interactions with Realistic Grid Impedances" (Sudipta Chakraborty, Andy Hoke, Blake Lundstrom), to be presented at the"Best Conference Papers on Grid Operation and Management" session at the IEEE PES General Meeting in Denver, Colorado, from 1-5 p.m. on July 27.

In addition to these and other NREL-authored papers, the event will also feature several NREL-hosted technical panel sessions, and a keynote speech from NREL Director Dan Arvizu on "Emerging Technologies."

NREL Models the Integrated Expansion of the U.S. and Canadian Electric Sectors with ReEDS

NREL recently published the reportModeling the Integrated Expansion of the Canadian and U.S. Power Sectors with the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS), which summarizes the development effort to create a robust representation of the combined capacity expansion of the U.S. and Canadian electric sectors within the NREL ReEDS model. NREL demonstrates this newly established capability through an illustrative sensitivity analysis that is meant to provide insights into the types of analysis this novel modeling capability can provide.

The abbreviated scenario analysis effort was designed to understand drivers behind various Canadian-U.S. power sector futures out to 2036. The impacts of natural gas prices, increased Canadian hydropower deployment, and increased renewable energy penetrations were modeled. Results show a significant increase in wind generation in both the United States and Canada with a gradual retirement of coal and nuclear energy, as well as large investments in transmission capacity across the border, almost doubling the existing capacity of transmission lines. In addition, the exchange of energy appears to be regionally driven. ISO-NE and NYISO import energy throughout the analysis period. However, in the Western Interconnection, we observe increasing imports to Canada from the United States, whereas the exchanges with MISO switch directions.

Future studies will enable a more exhaustive search of the parameter space and will provide important insights into identifying deployment trends and drivers resulting from the integrated planning of the U.S. and Canadian power systems. Read the full report, and for more information, contact Eduardo Ibanez.

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ESI in the U.S. and Around the World

The Latest from iiESI: Belgium Workshop Presentations Available, ESI 102 Course at NREL August 37

On May 18-22, the International Institute for Energy Systems Integration (iiESI) held an ESI 101 course at KU Leuven in Belgium. This introductory course covered the concept of ESI at all scales (from residential to continental) across multiple energy (and non-energy) domains from a technical, market, and regulatory perspective. The course was designed for graduate students and practitioners working in the field to give a perspective on the state of the art in ESI. See the workshop agenda and presentations.

iiESI is a community of scholars and practitioners from around the world engaged in developing an efficient global energy system. The institute will serve as a platform to facilitate information exchange and set research priorities, and will serve as a liaison among industry, policymakers, and researchers worldwide.

Want to join the conversation and learn more about ESI? iiESI will host an ESI 102 course at NREL August 3-7. Get more information and register here by July 17.

NREL Assesses International Smart Grid Test Facility

NREL's international reach is clear in the lab's recently published evaluation of the Netherlands' International Test Facility for Smart Grids International Test Facility for Smart Grids (ITF). Commissioned by The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland), the report discusses NREL's assessment of the ITF's status and capabilities, and compares it to other existing smart grid test beds and simulation platforms. Suggested actions for further development and services are also included in the report.

Read the full report.

San Diego Gas & Electric Powers Borrego Springs on Microgrid to Avoid Major Outage

On May 21, 2,800 customers with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)one of NREL's many partners in ESI researchwere switched to a microgrid during a period of planned maintenance, thus avoiding major service interruptions. Power was provided mostly by the 26-megawatt Borrego Solar facility, supplemented with batteries and diesel generators. This solution is believed to be the first time in the nation that a microgrid has leveraged renewable energy to power an entire community. According to SDG&E's Dave Geier, "SDG&E demonstrated in a real-world situation how we can use innovative technology to create a more resilient and sustainable grid for our customers."

Read more about the event.

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Who's Who at the ESIF

See Who Visited the ESIF in Juneand Attend an Open House July 30

Recent visitors to the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) include:

  • Air Force Research Laboratory's (AFRL) Advanced Power Technology Office
  • Consulate General of India in Houston
  • Denver Water
  • General Electric
  • Honda
  • LG
  • NREL's Executive Energy Leadership Academy
  • The Energy Fellows Institute
  • The International Environmental Communication Association
  • Westar Energy.

You can tour the ESIF, too. In conjunction with the IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting this month, NREL is hosting an Open House at the ESIF from 1-3 p.m. on July 30. Register here by July 15.

Can't make the Open House? Contact us today to schedule your own ESIF visit.

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