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Energy Systems Integration News

December 2015

Read the latest energy systems integration (ESI) news from NREL.

NREL Receives $3.9 Million from ARPA-E for Project to Improve the Electric Grid

On December 11, the Energy Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $33 million in funding for 12 innovative projects as part of ARPA-E's Network Optimized Distributed Energy Systems (NODES) programincluding a project by NREL to develop a comprehensive distribution network management framework.

NODES project teams will develop technologies that coordinate load and generation on the electric grid to create a virtual energy storage system. The teams will develop innovative hardware and software solutions to integrate and coordinate generation, transmission, and end-use energy systems at various points on the electric grid. These control systems will enable real-time coordination between distributed energy resources, such as rooftop and community solar assets and bulk power generation, while proactively shaping electric load. This will alleviate periods of costly peak demand, reduce wasted energy, and increase renewables penetration on the grid.

NREL received $3.9 million to develop a comprehensive distribution network management framework that unifies network-wide energy management at the utility/aggregator level with real-time voltage and frequency control at the level of the home or distributed energy resource controller. The NREL framework enables computationally affordable distributed implementations by decomposing network-level optimization into smaller sub-problems and applying appropriate approximations.

To learn more about NODES, read the Energy Department news release and the complete list of projects.

Download NREL's December 8 NSRDB Webinar

NREL hosted a free webinar on December 8 to debut the latest release of the National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB), the foremost public resource for solar data for the United Statesand beyond, as it has recently expanded to cover a growing list of international countries.

The NSRDB is a serially complete collection of meteorological and solar irradiance data sets. The data are publicly available at no cost to the user and provide foundational information to help solar system designers, building architects and engineers, renewable energy analysts, and many others to improve and expand solar energy technologies.

A video recording and PDF slides from the webinar are now available for download.

NREL ESI Researchers Contribute to Record Year of Invention at the Lab

As highlighted in a recent NREL news feature story, the eureka moments can come fast and furious at the lab, which last fiscal year racked up a record 169 inventions. Featured in the article are ESI researchers Annabelle Pratt and Hongyu Wuand their invention, the "Home Energy Management System." Its name may be deceptively simple, but unlike existing smart devices that allow a homeowner to remotely control dishwashers or air conditioners, this software goes a step further in its sophistication.

Pratt and Wu's software provides autonomous control of an entire house, handling everything from charging your electric vehicle for the morning commute to turning on appliances when utilities are charging the least for electricity. A real-time connection to weather forecasts and energy prices would allow the system to look into the future and meet the demand in the most cost-effective way and/or over a timeframe when the contribution of renewables to the generation mix is highest.

NREL to Collaborate with Other National Labs on Microgrid Systems Laboratory

The newly formed Microgrid Systems Laboratory in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a "fully-integrated innovation center for decentralized energy systems," focusing on microgrid innovation, education, and component certification. The laboratorys partners draw from premier research institutions, utilities, and microgrid industry leaders. In addition to NREL, the Microgrid System Laboratory research network includes two other Energy Department national laboratories: Sandia National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Read more about the new facility and partnerships.

NREL Study Informs FERC on New Market Settlement Rule

In September 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) titled Settlement Intervals and Shortage Pricing in Markets Operated by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators. FERC is proposing to revise its regulations to require that each regional transmission organization and independent system operator settle energy transactions in its real-time markets at the same time interval it dispatches energy, and settle operating reserves transactions in its real-time markets at the same time interval it prices operating reserves.

This NOPR was influenced by research at NRELspecifically the recent study Evolution of Wholesale Electricity Market Design with Increasing Levels of Renewable Generation, whichshowed that, due to the incentives created by hourly integrated settlements, resources can earn significant additional payments by not following dispatch signals. The research demonstrates that if operators use rolling hourly settlements with a 5-minute dispatch, they should reduce the incentive for generators to provide flexibility. By moving to a 5-minute settlement (along with the 5-minute dispatch), an operator will get more flexibility out of the unitsand they also earn more profit, creating a win-win scenario for the generators and grid operators.

Contact Michael Milligan for more information.

2014 Data Book Shows Increased Integration of Renewable Electricity

The 2014 Renewable Energy Data Book shows that U.S. renewable electricity grew to 15.5% of total installed capacity and 13.5% of total electricity generation. Published annually by NREL on behalf of the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Data Book illustrates United States and global energy statistics, including renewable electricity generation, renewable energy development, clean energy investments, and technology-specific data and trends.

Read more about the latest release of the Data Book.

NREL's O'Neill Speaks at Annual Technical Forum of China Southern Grid

NREL's Barbara O'Neill, Grid Integration Manager for the lab's Power Systems Engineering Center, recently spoke at the annual Technical Forum of China Southern Gridone of the few major utilities in Chinaat the Soluxe Hotel in Guangzhou, China. There were a few hundred people in attendance.

O'Neill spoke on "Power Grid Changes in Response to Increased Renewable Energy." This included some specific independent system operator steps, such as CAISO banding together with PacifiCorp to form the Energy Imbalance Market, and ERCOT's proposal to revamp its ancillary services market in response to changing system needs with increased wind and solar.

Contact Barbara O'Neill for more information.

Register for Our Distributed Controls Workshop January 27-28

Interact with leaders from academia, national laboratories, and industry at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) during our workshop on frontiers in distributed optimization and control of sustainable power systems on January 27 and 28.

The broader objective of the workshop is to address challenges in distributed control and optimization of future power systems within the context of developing a system-level understanding of emerging paradigms. An additional aim of the workshop is to promote the cross-fertilization of recent findings, advance foundational science for next-generation power systems, and facilitate technology-to-market transfer and industry adoption.

Preregistration is required, space is limited, and spots are filling quickly.

View the tentative workshop agenda and register for the event to reserve your spot.