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Energy Systems Integration News

February 2016

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

Photo of transmission lines.

Join NREL and DOE at a Grid Modernization Regional Workshop This Spring

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Grid Modernization Initiative, the Department is convening industry stakeholders across the U.S. in a series of regional workshops. These workshops will seek feedback on the Department's grid-related research and demonstration strategy, and provide opportunities for stakeholders to inform the Department on the grid-related technical challenges and emerging policy issues you see confronting your region and the nation as a whole.

The workshops will take place from March through June 2016 in these regions:

  • Central: Austin, Texas March 2-3, 2016
  • Northeast: Boston, Massachusetts April 2016 (dates TBA)
  • Northwest: Seattle, Washington April 2016 (dates TBA)
  • Southeast: Atlanta, Georgia May 2016 (dates TBA)
  • Midwest: Minneapolis, Minnesota May 2016 (dates TBA)
  • Southwest: San Jose, California June 2016 (dates TBA)

Learn more and sign up for email updates on the workshops at

We're Hiring: Open Positions on NREL's ESI Staff

NREL's ESI program is looking for talented engineers to join our team. Our open positions include:

Get the full list of job postings and learn more about working at NREL.

NREL Receives ARPA-E Award to Develop New Power Grid Models

The Energy Department's (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) last month announced $11 million in funding for a new program, Generating Realistic Information for the Development of Distribution and Transmission Algorithms (GRID DATA), that will develop realistic, open-access models and data repositories to aid in improving the U.S. electric grid.

In one of the seven GRID DATA projects, NREL and partners MIT-Comillas-IIT and Alstom Grid will develop combined distribution-transmission power grid models. Distribution models will be created using a version of Comillas' Reference Network Model (RNM), adapted to U.S. utilities, and based on real data from a broad range of utility partners. The models will be complemented by the development of customizable scenarios that can be used for accurate algorithm comparisons. These scenarios will take into account unknown factors that affect the grid like future power generation technologies, including distributed energy resources, such as residential solar and home energy storage, varying electrical load, disruptions due to weather events, solar and wind data, and repeatable contingency sequences.

Read more about the GRID DATA projects.

ESIF Featured in February IEEE Smart Grid Newsletter

NREL's Dr. Ben Kroposki recently spoke to IEEE about the uniquecapabilities of ourEnergy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) to validate the smart grid future.

Read the full story.

NREL Teams with ComEd on Microgrid-Integrated Storage Solution

With U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative funding, NREL will work with one of the nation's largest utilities to validate a new approach to get more solar on the grid.

As part of DOE's Grid Modernization Initiative, the SunShot Initiative recently awarded $18 million to six projects under the new Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV(SHINES)program. These projects will enable the development and demonstration of integrated, scalable, and cost-effective solar technologies that incorporate energy storage.

NREL is partnering with utility company Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) on one of the six projects to design and deploy a new solar and battery storage technology within ComEd's planned microgrid demonstration project in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. The team will create a microgrid-integrated solar-storage technology system that will enable the widespread use of low-cost, flexible, and reliable PV generation, as well as the use of battery energy storage systems.

Read more about the project.

NREL Power Systems Engineers Publish 33 Articles in Last Year

NREL's prolific power systems researchers have been busy publishing in the past yearthe lab's Power Systems Engineering Center published 33 journal and magazine articles highlighting recent research in integrating renewable energy into power systems.

Get the full list of articles and links.

NSRDB Expands to Include Solar Data for India

NREL's National Solar Radiation Database (NSRDB) now includes data for a growing list of international countries, including India.

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.

Read more about the new international data sets available in the NSRDB Viewer.

Download Presentations from Our Distributed Controls Workshop

NREL's ESI team hosted a workshop on frontiers in distributed optimization and control of sustainable power systems on January 2728, 2016, at theEnergy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF). The broader objective of the workshop was 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 was 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.

Presenters from industry, academia, national laboratories, and the U.S. Department of Energy participated in the workshop, bringing valuable insight and perspective to the discussions.

Download presentations from the workshop.

Report Roundup: Recent Technical Reports from NREL's ESI Researchers

Check out the latest technical reports from NREL's ESI research team.

  • Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing of Utility-Scale Wind Turbine Generators: Historically, wind turbine prototypes were tested in the field, which wasand continues to bea slow and expensive process. As a result, wind turbine dynamometer facilities were developed to provide a more cost-effective alternative to field testing. New turbine designs were tested and the design models were validated using dynamometers to drive the turbines in a controlled environment. Over the years, both wind turbine dynamometer testing and computer technology have matured and improved, and the two are now being joined to provide hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing. This type of testing uses a computer to simulate the items that are missing from a dynamometer test, such as grid stiffness, voltage, frequency, rotor, and hub. Furthermore, wind input and changing electric grid conditions can now be simulated in real time. This recent advance has greatly increased the utility of dynamometer testing for the development of wind turbine systems, and is discussed in this report.

  • System Impact Study of the Eastern Grid of Sumba Island, Indonesia: Steady-State and Dynamic System Modeling for the Integration of One and Two 850-kW Wind Turbine Generators: The goal of the project detailed in this report was to study the impact of integrating one and two 850-kW wind turbine generators into the eastern power system network of Sumba Island, Indonesia. A model was created for the 20-kV distribution network as it existed in the first quarter of 2015 with a peak load of 5.682 MW. Detailed data were collected for each element of the network. Load flow, short-circuit, and transient analyses were performed using DIgSILENT PowerFactory 15.2.1.

  • Final Technical Report: Integrated Distribution-Transmission Analysis for Very High Penetration Solar PV: Transmission and distribution simulations have historically been conducted separately, echoing their division in grid operations and planning while avoiding inherent computational challenges. Today, however, rapid growth in distributed energy resourcesincluding distributed generation from solar photovoltaics (DGPV)requires understanding the unprecedented interactions between distribution and transmission. To capture these interactions, especially for high-penetration DGPV scenarios, this research project developed a first-of-its-kind, high performance computer-based, integrated transmission-distribution tool, the Integrated Grid Modeling System (IGMS). The tool was then used in initial explorations of system-wide operational interactions of high-penetration DGPV, as detailed in this report.

Access more NREL ESI publications.

Learn How Companies Can Evaluate Behind-the-Meter Energy Storage Systems with NREL's System Advisor Model

NREL's System Advisor Model team, in conjunction with energy storage experts from NREL's ESI team, developed a detailed PV-coupled battery energy storage model that can accurately predict the voltage, capacity, thermal, and long-term degradation behavior of lead acid and lithium-ion battery systems. The new model helps companies assess the performance and economic effects of integrating battery energy storage systems into the electric grid.

Download our fact sheet to learn more.

Get an International Perspective on ESI at a Workshop in Dublin This May

Join the International Institute for Energy Systems Integration (iiESI) in Ireland this spring for a course on energy systems integration. iiESI is a global institute aimed at tackling ESI challenges through collaboration and education.

In association with Marie Curie Innovative Training Networks and the Energy Institute University College Dublin (UCD), iiESI will host the ESI course at UCD from Monday, May 16, to Friday, May 20, 2016. This course follows on previous successful ESI courses hosted by iiESI.

Learn more and register for the event at

NREL ESI Director Reappointed to California Council on Science & Technology

NREL Associate Laboratory Director for Energy Systems Integration Dr. Bryan Hannegan has been reappointed as a member of the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) through December 2018. CCST is a nonpartisan, impartial, not-for-profit organization that provides objective advice from California's best scientists and research institutions on policy issues involving science.

Read more at the CCST website.

Catch Upcoming Talks from NREL ESI Leadership

Mark your calendar for upcoming speaking engagements for NREL's ESI leadership.

  • March 8-9:NREL's Computational Science Center Director Steve Hammond will speak on sustainable data centers at TheGreen Grid Forum 2016 in Seattle, Washington.

  • April 6: NREL's Director of Partnerships for ESI Dr. Martha Symko-Davies will speak on the panel "Future Outlook: Enabling Technology & Where the Business is Headed" at the Energy Times Conference 2016 in San Francisco, California.

  • April 8:NREL's Cyber Physical Systems Security and Resilience Center Director Erfan Ibrahim will speak on cybersecurity at theTwelfth Annual Symposium on Energy in the 21st Century in East Syracuse, New York.

See the full list of upcoming NREL ESI events.