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Energy Systems Integration News

Photo of the front of the Energy Systems Integration Facility building.

Photo by John De La Rosa, NREL

October 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


NREL Dedicates New Hydrogen Fueling Station at the ESIF

On October 8, NREL dedicated its 700 bar hydrogen fueling station at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF)the first station of its kind in Colorado and in the national lab systemas part of a celebration of National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day.

The fueling station is part of NREL's new Hydrogen Infrastructure Testing and Research Facility (HITRF), where scientists will be able to produce hydrogen through electrolysis, test fuel cell vehicle and infrastructure components and systems, and improve renewable hydrogen production methods.

Learn more about the new fueling station.

"Little Box Challenge" Inverters Arrive at NREL for Testing

On October 21, each of the 18 finalists in the Little Box Challenge presented by Google and the IEEE Power Electronics Society brought their inverters to NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) to begin testing and evaluation. The day also included each team describing the highlights of its design and lessons learned to a team of researchers and engineers from Google, IEEE, NREL, and others in the power electronics industry.

NREL researchers have collaborated with Google and IEEE to assist in designing the specifications and evaluation methodology for the prototype inverters; each inverter's efficiency and performance will be evaluated using the same set of typical operating conditions spanning 100 hours. Each inverter must be able to meet most of the same specifications required of inverters already available commercially. More than 100 teams submitted technical approach documents and testing applications.

The test results will help Google and IEEE decide the winner of the $1 million prize. To be successful, teams will have designed and built a residential-scale inverter with the highest power densityat least 50 watts per cubic inch. Currently, inverters are about the size of a picnic cooler, and Google would like to see the technology shrink to the size of a small laptop computer, or smaller. Shrinking the inverter by 10 times or more and making it cheaper to produce and install would enable more solar-powered homes, more efficient distribution grids, and help bring electricity to remote areas.

The grand-prize winner will be announced sometime in early 2016.

Learn more about NREL's partnership with Google through the Challenge.

Symko-Davies Talks Grid Modernization in The Energy Times

Read commentary from NREL Director of Partnerships for ESI Dr. Martha Symko-Davies on how federal labs are helping orchestrate greater deployment of renewables on the grid.

Get the full story from The Energy Times.

ESIF HPC System Expands for Increased Computing Power

Peregrine, the flagship high-performance computing (HPC) system at NREL's Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF), is expanding to have an additional 1,152 nodes, each of which will have two of the new Intel E5-2670v3 Xeon "Haswell-EP" processor chips and 64 GB of memory. These new nodes will bring the aggregate peak performance of Peregrine to 2.2 PetaFLOPS. The new nodes will be integrated into the system's high-speed Inifiniband network as two 576-node "scalable units," which will increase the maximum number of CPU cores that a single job can use from 6,912 cores to 13,824 cores. This expansion nearly doubles the number of node hours available for project allocations.

Learn more about high-performance computing at NREL.

NREL Hosts High-Pen PV Workshop, Greentech Media Grid Edge Meeting This Month

NREL hosted two events with industry at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) this month.

  • On October 22 and 23, NREL hosted a workshop showcasing the latest research and advanced technologies for integrating high penetrations of PV in distribution grids. Stay tunedworkshop materials will soon be posted on NREL's ESI website.
  • On October 27, NREL hosted Greentech Media's Grid Edge Executive Council meeting on the topic of renewable integration at the grid edge. Discussions focused on examining the top drivers of renewable integration and the technology currently available to facilitate rapid grid connectivity. Other topics include identifying downstream impacts of more grid-connected renewables and some of the regional efforts currently underway.

Hear from NREL's Energy System Integration Leadership in November

Mark your calendar for two speaking engagements for NREL's ESI leadership next month.

  • November 46: NREL's Dr. Martha Symko-Davies will speak on "Building the Grid Integrating Complexity" at the Empowering Customers & Cities event in Chicago, Illinois.
  • November 1113: NREL Associate Lab Director for Energy Systems Integration Dr. Bryan Hannegan will give the keynote address at the first-ever GridNEXT conference in Houston, Texas.
  • November 1718: Dr. Hannegan will speak on "The invaders: Disruptive technologies crowding the utility space" at the Utilities in a Time of Change and Challenge conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.

See the full list of upcoming NREL ESI events.

NREL's Enhanced Scenario Framework for Electricity Sector Analysis Provides Cost, Performance Data

Projections of potential energy futures are highly dependent on the assumptions associated with specific technologies, market conditions, and energy policies. A new framework from NREL that includes generation technology cost assumptions and an ensemble of future scenarios is being used to improve the robustness and comparability of electric sector analysis by the lab, academia, and other entities in the energy analysis community.

NREL's Annual Technology Baseline (ATB) and Standard Scenarios have been used to inform U.S. region inputs to the International Energy Agency's (IEA) and Nuclear Energy Agency's recent report on "Projected Costs of Generating Electricity 2015 Edition," as well as its ongoing World Energy Outlook analysis. The ATB is also cited in EPA's final Clean Power Plan rule as a source, recognizing the ATB as a current, consensus source for renewable cost and performance assumptions.

Read more about the ATB and Standard Scenarios.

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ESI in the U.S. and Around the World

iiESI Update: New Video, Thermal Energy Workshop in Korea

This month, the International Institute for Energy Systems Integration (iiESI) released a new video and hosted a workshop on thermal energy storage in Korea. iiESI is a global institute aimed at tackling the challenges of energy systems integration through collaboration and education.

  • Watch the video on to learn more about this global collaboration from iiESI leadership and workshop participants.
  • iiESI and the Korea Institute of Energy Research co-sponsored the workshop "ICT Enabling Thermal Energy Flexibility in Integrated Energy Systems" in Korea. The workshop followed the World Science and Technology Forum, hosted by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning of the Republic of Korea on October 21-22. Workshop materials will soon be posted on

Watch for upcoming issues of Energy Systems Integration News for more iiESI updates.

Energy Department Awards $6 Million to Universities to Advance Master's and Doctoral Training in Power Electronics

On October 8, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the two universities selected to receive nearly $6 million to establish one or more graduate-level training programs for engineers in power electronics.

DOE selected the University of Tennessee, Knoxville to receive $2.9 million and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) to receive $3 million to create masters or doctoral training programs that will enable the design, manufacturing, and deployment of advanced high-efficiency electrical equipment such as motors, inverters, and grid equipment, as well as high-efficiency electrical systems.

The training curricula 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. The five-year traineeships programs will be implemented beginning in the fall 2016 school year and are concentrated on advanced power electronic equipment engineering, design, and manufacturing.

Learn more about the programs.

California's Largest Utility Commits $3B Annually to Grid Modernization

On October 19, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), California's largest utility and a partner in NREL's ESI research, joined a White House effort to rally business support for action on climate change, with the company's top executive taking part in a roundtable discussion with President Obama. PG&E joined 80 other companies who have signed onto President Barack Obama's American Business Act on Climate Pledge, pushing for action on climate change while making a case for stronger innovation on the business side.

The utility pledged to reach 60% carbon-free energy and said it will invest $3 billion annually through 2020 on grid modernization efforts.

Read more from PG&E.

Energy Department Invests More Than $34 Million to Improve Protection of the Nation's Energy Infrastructure

On October 9, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability announced more than $34 million for two projects that will help protect the U.S. electric grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure from cyber threats.

The University of Arkansas and the University of Illinois will assemble teams with expertise in power systems engineering and the computer science of cybersecurity to develop new technologies that will help protect energy delivery systems for continuous and reliable power. These universities and their partners will engage with utilities and suppliers of energy delivery systems and components from early research through eventual adoption by the energy sector.

Learn more about the projects.

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Who's Who at the ESIF

See Who Visited the ESIF in September

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

  • Attendees of GIS in the Rockies 2015
  • Black and Veatch
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • North American Electric Reliability Corporation
  • Total New Energy

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

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