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Energy Systems Integration News

March 2016

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

Photo of two men working in a laboratory.

NREL Analysis Helps Decide Winner of Google Little Box Challenge

CE+T Power's Red Electrical Devils team won $1 million for its design of a cheaper, smaller power inverter in a competition hosted by Google, IEEE Power Electronics Society, and NREL. Competing companies' inverters were analyzed by our world-class staff at the Energy Systems Integration Facility.

Shrinking inverters by an order of magnitude and making them cheaper to produce and install will enable more solar-powered homes and more efficient distribution grids, while helping bring electricity to remote areas. A key factor in the winning inverters was the use of wide-bandgap semiconductors, a technology that enables power electronics to operate at higher voltages and temperatures, allowing them to transmit more energy through a smaller volume.

Read more about the competition and the winning design.

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.

Smarter Grid Solutions to Demonstrate Active Network Management System at NREL March 31

As part of its ongoing work under NREL's Integrated Network Testbed for Energy Grid Research and Technology Experimentation (INTEGRATE) project, Smarter Grid Solutions will demonstrate an integrated, flexible plug-and-play grid management solution at a "smart campus" scale at NREL on March 31, 2016.

The technology uses Active Network Management (ANM) to enhance the capacity of the grid to host renewable energy resources. The ANM solution has the ability to manage and maintain the distribution grid within operating limits through the autonomous management, coordination, and control of distributed energy resources (DER) in real time to more fully utilize existing network assets.

INTEGRATE is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Grid Modernization Initiative.

See who else is partnering with NRELs energy systems integration team.

Learn About Non-Linear Oscillators and Self-Organizing Power Electronics March 30

NREL has kicked off a new series of webinars on smart grid-related topics featuring speakers from the lab and industry.

On March 30, 2016, from 1:30-3 p.m. MDT, NREL Electrical Engineer Dr. Brian Johnson will speak about non-linear oscillators and self-organizing power electronics as scalable solutions for power systems design.

Read more about the topic and register for the webinar.

Attend NREL's First Annual Postdoc Networking Day June 14

Attention company representatives: RSVP for an opportunity to network with NREL's postdoctoral researchers, learn about partnering with NREL, and tour our Energy Systems Integration Facility on June 14, 2016.

Learn more and secure your spot at the event.

ESI Team Members Win Big at NREL's Staff Awards

Computational Science Center Director Steve Hammond and Principal Engineer Dr. Vahan Gevorgian each won awards for leadership at this year's ceremony celebrating NREL staff achievements.

Steve Hammond, director of NREL's Computational Science Center, received the Van Morriss Award for his vision and expertise to establish a computing capability at NREL that advances scientific progress and positions the laboratory at the forefront of discovery. After arriving at NREL in 2002, when computing power at the laboratory was limited to only a few users and computational capabilities were seen as sub-par, Hammond established a series of strategic collaborations, stressing the need for advanced computational capabilities within the national laboratory complex. He also hired a small staff with strong computational credentials, along with solid backgrounds in the physical, chemical, and biological sciences. Under Hammond's leadership, the team worked methodically to justify the need for an ever-increasing computational capability.

Today, the center staff stands at 36and the computing power at 1.2 petaflops. This represents an 18,000-fold increase over the computational capability available at NREL back when Hammond arrived in 2002. This increased capability has benefitted research across the laboratory from modeling enzyme catalysis, to creating high-fidelity wind simulations, to studying fluid and temperature fields inside vehicle cabins.

Hammond also created one of the most progressive, energy-efficient, high-performance computing centers in the world at the lab's Energy Systems Integration Facility. His team worked with Hewlett Packard (HP) and other manufacturers to develop and demonstrate liquid-cooled processers and servers, which capture heat from the data center to heat other building spaces. This innovation was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy with a 2014 Sustainability Award and by R&D Magazine with a 2014 R&D 100 Award for the most significant technology innovation of the year.

Dr. Vahan Gevorgian, a principal engineer in the NREL Power Systems Engineering Center, won the H.M. Hubbard Award for 20 years of innovation and leadership in renewable energy and its integration onto the electric system, for lofty vision and ceaseless drive, and for turning NREL into a world-class testing and simulation facility. Gevorgian has helped shape the wind industry as it has grown from small distributed turbines to large-scale wind farms and has contributed technical knowledge, including the development of advanced control algorithms for variable speed wind turbines and grid support capability for both wind and solar plants.

Among his many achievements, Gevorgian was key to the design, development, and construction of 5-megawatt and 2.5-megawatt dynamometers at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). He is also behind the development of the controllable grid interface, a one-of-a-kind power system simulator at the multi-megawatt scale. As a result of his work, NREL owns the largest power system simulator in the world.

Gevorgian is now working to interconnect the facilities at the NWTC and the facilities at the Energy Systems Integration Facility. With this connection, NREL will be able to demonstrate real-time operation between the two sites and will be able to run dynamic power system simulations using power hardware at both locationsanother first-of-its-kind achievement.

Join NREL and DOE at a Grid Modernization Regional Workshop

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 are being held this month through June 2016 in various regions across the country. Learn more and sign up for email updates on the workshops at SmartGrid.gov.

NREL ESI Staff Win UVIG Achievement Award

With partners from Puerto Rico Power Authority (PREPA), First Solar, and AES, two members of our staff have been recognized by the Utility Variable Generation Group (UVIG) for leadership and contributions to the field trials of ancillary services from photovoltaic power plants.

The UVIG Achievement Award will be presented at the UVIG Spring Technical Workshop and Annual Meeting in Sacramento on April 26 to NREL's Dr. Vahan Gevorgian and Barbara O'Neill, PREPA's Gregory Rivera Chico and Martin Perez Garcia, First Solar's Mahesh Morjaria and Vladimir Chadliev, and AES' Obed Santos.

Learn more about the team's pioneering work.

Register for Upcoming Webinars on Grid Integration of Renewable Resources

NREL's energy analysis team is hosting free webinars on grid integration of renewableson March 31 and April 14.

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.

Get more information and register for the event at iiESI.org.

New User Manual Available for NREL's Radiometer Calibration and Characterization Software

NREL has released a new user manual for the Radiometer Calibration and Characterization (RCC) software, a data acquisition and data archival system for performing Broadband Outdoor Radiometer Calibrations (BORCAL). RCC provides a unique method of calibrating broadband atmospheric longwave (LW) and solar shortwave (SW) radiometers using techniques that reduce measurement uncertainty and better characterize a radiometer's response profile. The software automatically monitors and controls many of the components that contribute to uncertainty in an instrument's responsivity.

Download the manual.

Catch Upcoming Talks from NREL ESI Leadership

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

  • April 6, 2016: 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, 2016: NREL's Cyber Physical Systems Security and Resilience Center Director Dr. Erfan Ibrahim will speak on cybersecurity at the Twelfth Annual Symposium on Energy in the 21st Century in East Syracuse, New York.

See the full list of upcoming NREL ESI events.