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Energy Systems Integration News

Photo of a group of children in front of a 3D visualization screen.

Students from the OpenWorld Learning group interact with a wind turbine wind velocity simulation at the 3D visualization lab at the Energy Systems Integration Facility during a tour on July 30.
Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

August 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


Popular Mechanics: Scientists Break This Virtual Power Grid to Save the Real One

In a recent story, Popular Mechanics describes how the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) at NREL helps integrate solar power into outdated systems without causing blackouts or explosions in the process.

As reported by the magazine, NREL Associate Lab Director for ESI Dr. Bryan Hannegan explained that "no utility wants to run experiments on a grid while it's delivering power to customers. They need to keep the lights on."

The story explains how four of the ESIF's labs perform solar energy simulations so local power companies don't have to.

Read the full story.

ESIF 2015 Mid-Year Report Highlights Facility's Latest Successes

The Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) 2015 Mid-Year Report is now available to download.

The report provides an overview of recent work at the ESIF from October 2014 to March 2015. The ESIF 2014 Annual Report documented more than $5 million in new funds in research with 46 partners. Many of these partnerships continue to be active today, as NREL works with utilities, universities, government agencies, other national laboratories, and a variety of industries to investigate all aspects of energy systems integration.

The report documents the new and continuing partnerships that are maintaining a lively pace of activity in the ESIF. It also reports on the latest physical enhancements to the ESIF, including significant new capabilities to generate and store hydrogen and to use it for refueling.

Download the report.

Presentations Available from NREL's Advanced Grid Control Technologies Workshops in July

NREL's energy systems integration team hosted workshops on advanced distribution management systems and microgrid controls on July 79. The workshops were held at the Energy Systems Integration Facility.

In a keynote address on July 8, Kevin Lynn of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) explained the vision of how to accelerate the modernization of the North American grid through 2025. Lynn noted that EERE supports core R&D and proof-of-concept activities that integrate technology innovation, technical assistance and institutional support, regional demonstrations at multiple scales to demonstrate marketability, and partnerships with industry and the research community as well as tech transfer to industry to play a part in the process.

The following day, keynote speaker Dan Ton of DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability shared how the Integrated Grid (microgrid) R&D Program foresees the technical requirements for advancing the microgrid to a fully integrated entity within the distribution system, interacting seamlessly with distribution system operators.

Presentations from the workshops are available to download.

NREL's Power Systems Research Highlighted at 2015 IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting

NREL's power systems research was featured prominently at the 2015 IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) General Meeting July 2731 in Denver.

NREL won four prestigious "Best Conference Paper" awards and had more than 30 presentations and posters at the conference highlighting NREL's research in power systems. In addition, the NREL-coauthored paper "Designing and Integrating Wind Power into Power System Curriculum" received the IEEE PES Technical Committee Prize Paper Award.

Read a summary of NREL's participation in the event.

New Weather Software Could Be a Game-Changer for Solar and Wind

IBM and NREL have developed a program that tailors weather forecasts to give renewable utilities information about what to expect from the weather and how it will affect power output. IBM revealed on July 16 that solar and wind forecasts it is producing using machine learning and other cognitive computing technologies are proving to be as much as 30% more accurate than ones created using conventional approaches.

The work was part of a research program funded the by the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, and the research suggests new ways to optimize solar resources as they are increasingly integrated into the nation's energy systems. NREL's Bri-Mathias Hodge said that "by improving the accuracy of forecasting, utilities can operate more efficiently and profitably. That can increase the use of renewable energy sources as a more accepted energy generation option."

Read the IBM news release for more information.

NREL Releases First Annual Standard Scenarios Report

NREL has created a suite of scenario projections for the U.S. electric sector to 2050, covering a range of future trajectories for generation technology costs and other key drivers such as load growth and natural gas prices.

This first-year effort, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), defined scenarios, documented associated assumptions, and generated modeled results using NREL's Regional Energy Deployment Systems[BROKEN LINK] (ReEDS) model. This work leverages and continues significant activity already supported by EERE for individual technologies and market segments.

Read the report summary.

NREL Gives Webinar on New High-Resolution Wind Integration Data Set

NREL's Caroline Draxl and Bri-Mathias Hodge presented on the Wind Integration National Dataset (WIND) Toolkit in a webinar hosted by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The webinar was attended by 51 people representing industry and academia from 20 states.

Adding variable wind-generated electricity to the grid presents an ongoing challenge to utility companies, grid operators, and other stakeholders involved in wind energy integration. They need high-quality wind energy output data to conduct wind integration studies that can discover how best to increase the penetration of wind energy on the grid.

To address this need, NREL and 3Tier's WIND Toolkit provides the largest source of high-quality wind energy resource data publicly available to date. The toolkit contains energy resource data for more than 126,000 sites from around the United States. Metrics include wind speed and wind power (net generation output) at a 5-minute resolution, spanning 2007 to 2013. Raising awareness of the WIND Toolkit will benefit the wind industry by providing users with a new and powerful data set that helps improve and accelerate the rate of wind integration in the United States. The toolkit has already proven popular; it has had 16,000 downloads since its inception, 14,000 of which were in 2015. The amount of data available to download is set to quadruple in the coming weeks.

The webinar will be available for viewing at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's webinar archive.

Webinar Recording Available on ESIF Smart Grid Capabilities

Watch and listen as NREL's Dr. Ben Kroposki talks to IEEE about the capabilities of the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF).

A recording is available from the July 16 webinar "Smart Grid Research at NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility." Check it out on IEEE's Smart Grid website.

ESIF Achieves ISO Quality, Environmental Management Standards

The Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) has been certified to two standards established by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the world's largest developer of voluntary international standards. These certifications mean the ESIF meets international standards in quality management (ISO 9001:2008) and environmental management (ISO 14001:2004). ESIF users will benefit from the standards' world-class specifications that ensure quality, safety, and efficiency. The ESIF is the first facility on the NREL campus to receive quality management system certification.

The ISO 14001:2004 standard is globally recognized and defines the structure of a facility's environmental management system to improve its environmental performance. ISO 9001:2008 defines the structure of a facility's quality management system to ensure continuous improvement. These international certifications further the ESIF's position as a world-class research, development, and demonstration facility.

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ESI in the U.S. and Around the World

DOE to Fund Master's and Doctoral Training in Power Electronics

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $10 million available to establish one or more graduate-level training programs at colleges and universities for engineers in power electronics. The five-year traineeships program will be implemented beginning in 2016 and is concentrated on advanced power electronic equipment engineering, design, and manufacturing.

The training curriculum in power electronicswhich control or convert electrical energy into usable powerwill include cutting-edge wide-bandgap semiconductors that can operate at higher temperatures, voltages, and frequencies, and are more durable and reliable than silicon-based counterparts.

See the DOE news release for more information.

SunShot Funding Spurs Standardized Testing for "Smart" Solar Inverters

Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, NREL ESI researchers led the working group for the recently passed IEEE amendment 1547.1a, which standardizes inverter testing protocols and procedures for three advanced inverter functionalities.

IEEE's 1547.1a amendment is a significant milestone that will enable the solar industry to benefit from the additional grid resilience that advanced inverters provide, while ensuring that all grid-connected inverters meet defined standards for safety and reliability. Ultimately, it will allow for high levels of solar energy to be integrated into the nations power system in a safe, reliable, and cost effective manner.

Read more about this work.

Utility Dive: How DOE Is Remaking Itself to Help Utilities Modernize the Grid

As reported by Utility Dive, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says now's the time for utilities to take advantage of new partnership and research opportunities with organizations like NREL.

In the story, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) David Danielson said there's a big ongoing shift away from silos, and he intends to increase coordination between EERE and the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) and "blur the lines" between OE's focus on transmission and distribution and EERE's focus on behind-the-meter technologies. And one home for the new coordination between the two offices is the Energy Systems Integration Facility at NREL.

Get the full story.

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Who's Who at the ESIF

NREL Partner Asetek Showcases Liquid Cooling Technology Used at the ESIF

Watch this video describing Asetek's RackCDU liquid cooling technology for energy-efficient data centerswhich has been deployed at the high-performance computing data center at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF).

Learn more about NREL's work with Asetek.

See Who Visited the ESIF in July

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

  • Alstom
  • Attendees of the IEEE Power and Energy Society General Meeting
  • Colonel Steven A. Sliwa, Director of the Rapid Equipping Force of the U.S. Army
  • Delegation from the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy
  • Duke Energy
  • Florida Power & Light
  • igrenEnergi
  • Johan Enslin, Director for the Energy Production and Infrastructure Center (EPIC) at the University of North Carolina
  • Minister of the Republic of Indonesia
  • National Clean Fleets Partnership
  • OpenWorld Learning
  • Solantro
  • Varun Sivaram, Douglas Dillon Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relationscheck out his blog post about his visit.

You can tour the ESIF, too. Contact us today to schedule your own ESIF visit.

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