Skip to main content

Energy Systems Integration News

April 2016

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

Photo of a group of people in a laboratory

INTEGRATE Partner Demonstrates Active Network Management of DER

New York-based Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS Inc.) has employed its Active Network Management (ANM) system at NREL to manage and maintain a modeled distribution grid within normal operating limits through the autonomous management, coordination, and control of distributed energy resources (DER) in real time. SGS Inc. started by demonstrating that their system could monitor a home's smart meter data and control the power flow from the home's solar photovoltaic (PV) system to the home itself, to an electric vehicle (EV), and to and from the home's energy storage system.

The company then demonstrated its ability to wield the same level of control across a smart campus by simulating this capability in the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF). The ESIF simulations included a 1-megawatt grid simulator, 500-kilowatt controllable load banks, a 500-kilowatt PV inverter, a 500-kilowatt battery inverter, a Nissan Leaf (with four additional Leafs in the simulation), creating a virtual smart campus that was then interconnected to an actual distribution network. The simulations proved the ANM system's ability to provide power flow control and voltage control for a campus with a high penetration of solar power. For instance, when the PV system generated too much power for the distribution grid, the ANM system directed some of the power to the battery and the EVs to avoid curtailing the PV power.

The next phase of the project will expand to demonstrate the coordination and real-time management of aggregated smart homes, the smart campus, and additional community- or utility-scale clean energy for an entire distribution grid.

"We are thankful for NREL's support and partnership on this project, which has provided us with an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate the full potential of our ANM Strata platform with the physical DER devices and real-time simulation environments at the ESIF," said Bob Currie, CTO and co-founder of SGS Inc. "Our advisory board got to witness our technology delivering a range of DER integration use cases, consider the tangible benefits it can bring to utilities and the developer community, and discuss the opportunities for the industry to accelerate the adoption of real-time DER management for increased grid hosting capacityall in the surroundings of the world-class facilities at NREL."

The effort is part of NREL's Integrated Network Testbed for Energy Grid Research and Technology Experimentation (INTEGRATE) project, a $6.5-million, cost-shared project managed by NREL and involving five partnerships that are aiming to allow renewable energy systems and other clean energy technologies to be connected to a "smart" power grid in a "plug-and-play" manner, similar to how computers automatically connect to new devices plugged in by the users. INTEGRATE is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Grid Modernization Initiative.

The project includes an Industry Project Advisory Board that will help inform the use case requirements and includes members from Pecan Street Inc., NRG Energy, New York State Smart Grid Consortium, Con Edison, National Grid, Avangrid, NextEra, RES Americas, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and SIMARD SG.

See who else is partnering with NREL's energy systems integration team.

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

NREL's ESI program is looking for talented engineers and researchers to join our team. Open positions include:

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

2015 ESIF Annual Report Calls to Industry: Bring Us Your Challenges

The 2015 Energy Systems Integration Facility Annual Report is now available for download.

The Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) is the nation's premier facility for research, development, and demonstration of the components and strategies needed to optimize our entire energy system. It was established in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy on the NREL campus, and is a designated DOE user facility.

This second ESIF Annual Report documents the great progress NREL has made in using the unique capabilities at the ESIF to explore the integration of solar and wind technologies into the electric grid using advanced power electronics. NREL has also continued to expand the ESIF's capabilities with regard to hydrogen production, storage, and fueling, including the first high-altitude, high-pressure fueling station for fuel cell vehicles installed at the ESIF this year. The lab's work on microgrids and energy storage is helping military bases, communities, and industrial complexes improve their resilience and increase their sustainability. And, in the last year, NREL deployed new capabilities at the ESIF to develop and validate advanced distribution management systems, and explore the cyber and physical security issues associated with emerging grid technologies.

Download the report to learn more about what NREL and partners accomplished at the ESIF last yearand how you can join us in solving the big challenges facing our energy system.

What's Next in R&D to Secure Critical Infrastructure? Find Out July 13 and 14

Mark your calendar: NREL's Cyber-Physical Systems Security and Resilience team is hosting a workshop at the Energy Systems Integration Facility on July 13 and 14, 2016, to discuss current and future R&D to secure the nation's grid.

The security and resilience of critical infrastructure has become a high-priority topic in the United States after a series of natural disasters and cyber threats from nation states and nefarious organizations over the past few years. Several public- and private-sector groups are researching this topic from a technology, business process, and policy perspective. This workshop is an attempt to bring together key stakeholder groups from across the United States to discuss:

  1. The status of the current R&D work
  2. The gaps that still exist
  3. Recommended next steps in R&D to fill these gaps.

The workshop will also provide an opportunity for the different R&D working groups in this space to network with each other and explore closer collaboration to maximize the value derived from the funds and the research infrastructure across the nation. The stakeholder groups will include: utilities; vendors; integrators; trade associations; standards specification groups; standards development organizations; state, federal, and local government agencies; academia; national and commercial labs; and individual subject matter experts.

Learn more and register for the workshop.

Watch Recent Webinars from Our Ongoing Smart Grid Educational Series

NREL recently kicked off a new series of webinars on smart grid-related topics featuring speakers from the lab and industrycheck out the recordings if you've missed any of the live presentations.

NREL ESI Director Talks Grid Modernization at April FERC Meeting

On April 21, 2016, experts from NREL and several other national laboratories spoke at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC's) monthly meeting in Washington, DC, on federal efforts to modernize the grid.

NREL Associate Laboratory Director for ESI Bryan Hannegan was one of the speakers who described how the U.S. electric grid must move toward a new way of operating to accommodate changing priorities, including increased integration of renewable energy.

Read more in articles from the American Public Power Association and Electric Light and Power.

NREL Computational Science Director Presents to Capitol Hill on National Labs' High-Performance Computing Capabilities

On April 28, 2016, NREL Computational Science Director Steve Hammond participated on the panel "The Vital Importance of High-Performance Computing to U.S. Competitiveness and National Security," hosted by the Information Technology and InnovationFoundation in Washington, DC.

The panel briefed Capitol Hill on why high-performance computing (HPC) is increasingly vital to America's economic competitiveness, science leadership, and national security. Hammond presented on how NREL's HPC capabilitiesincluding the Peregrine supercomputer at the Energy Systems Integration Facilityare helping the national labs' R&D advance the nation's clean energy goals.

NREL's Kroposki Speaks at 2016 Global Energy Interconnection Conference

NREL's ESI research has international reach: last month, Dr. Ben Kroposki, director of NREL's Power Systems Engineering Center, presented in China on DOE's Grid Modernization Initiative as well as NREL's recent research results in renewable integration.

Held March 30 and 31 in Beijing, the 2016 Global Energy Interconnection Conference focused on State Grid Corporation of China's idea of creating an internationally interconnected grid stretching around the world. The first step would be an interconnected Asian grid, and a signing ceremony was held between China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea on this idea.

Dr. Kroposki's invited presentation addressed research on smart photovoltaic (PV) inverters, advanced power system operations and controls, new design tools, and studies on integrating high levels of renewable energy into power grids. Dr. Kroposki also met with representatives from State Grid Energy Research Institute (SGERI) to discuss a planned 5-year research collaboration between NREL and SGERI. Funded by the Hewlett Foundation, this collaboration will examine the large-scale deployment of renewable energy in China, with a focus on solving technical issues associated with reaching State Grid's clean energy goals.

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 workshop series is now underway, with several sessions being held through June 2016 in various regions across the country. Learn more and sign up for email updates on the workshops

Attend NREL's First Annual Postdoc Networking Day June 14

Attention industry reps: 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.

Workshop in Ireland Next Month Offers an International Perspective on ESI

Join the International Institute for Energy Systems Integration (iiESI) in Ireland next month 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 on May 16 and 19, 2016. This course follows on previous successful ESI courses hosted by iiESI.

Get more information and register for the event

Read Recent Journal Articles from NREL's ESI Researchers

Catch up on peer-reviewed articles authored by NREL ESI staff and released in the past month:

Find more ESI publications.

Final Report Available on the Creation of NREL's WIND Toolkit

A final report is now available detailing the creation of the Wind Integration National Dataset (WIND) Toolkit, an update and expansion of the Eastern and Western Wind Datasets that is intended to support the next generation of integration studies. The WIND Toolkit includes meteorological conditions and turbine power for more than 126,000 sites in the continental United States for the years 20072013. The WIND Toolkit has been funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Wind and Water Power Technologies Office, and was created through the collaborative efforts of the NREL and Vaisala, Inc. (previously 3TIER, Inc.).

Download the report: Final Report on the Creation of the Wind Integration National Dataset (WIND) Toolkit and API: October 1, 2013 September 30, 2015

Learn How NREL Research Proves Wind Can Provide Ancillary Grid Fault Response

When the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) commissioned a 1.5-megawatt (MW) wind turbine in 2009, it became a key player in improving the performance and lowering the costs of wind energy systems. In 2015, researchers at the National Wind Technology Center connected the 300-foot-tall turbine to the controllable grid interface test facility, which simulates the real-time conditions of a utility-scale power grid. This began an ongoing,DOE-funded research effort to test how wind turbines can remain connected to the grid during short periods of grid failure.

Why is this research important? Read the full story to find out.

NREL ESI Engineer Talks Solar Grid Integration in Denver Business Journal

NREL Senior Electrical Engineer Michael Coddington was recently featured in a Denver Business Journal article highlighting the growing demand for solar energy technologies in Colorado, and how this influx of clean energy technology is affecting local utilities.

Note: subscription needed to access full article.