Energy Systems Integration Newsletter: April 2021

In this edition, NREL and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar's decade of innovation; 11 remote and island communities partner with national labs on energy resilience; Q&A with Jacqueline Cochran, the principal investigator behind Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study; and more!

An F35 plane taking off from a runway in Miramar.

NREL, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar: Allies in Energy Efficiency, Systems Integration, and Resilience

For more than a decade, NREL and the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar have partnered to enhance resilience, energy efficiency, and integration of renewable energy. The latest venture in this partnership focused on the development and construction of a new data center intended to be a paragon of energy efficiency and design. In the summer of 2020, the data center was commissioned, including a microgrid-connected generator that provides an additional 1.5 MW of power to the entire installation when isolated from the utility.

Learn more about this project and NREL's partnership with Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

New Community Partnership Project Charts Paths to a More Resilient and Equitable Energy Future

Remote and island communities often rely heavily on fossil fuels for energy generation, leaving them more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, natural disasters, and extreme weather events. With the recent launch of the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project, these communities have an unprecedented opportunity to improve their energy resilience. The 11 communities initially named in this partnership represent energy and infrastructure opportunities in building performance, distributed energy resources, microgrids, solar, storage, and more.

Learn more about the partnership and how it is improving resilience for remote and island communities.

Q&A with Jacqueline Cochran: Prioritizing Environmental Justice on Path to 100% Renewables

Prioritizing environmental justice was a crucial component of the recently released LA100: The Los Angeles 100% Renewable Energy Study, a partnership between NREL and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to analyze how the second largest city in the nation can reach its 100% renewable energy goal equitably and economically. Jaquelin Cochran manages NREL's Grid Systems Group and served as principal investigator for LA100. We caught up with her to learn more about how this landmark study is helping Los Angeles move the needle on prioritizing environmental justice—and what's next for NREL in continuing to center equity in our research.

NREL Joins Industry in Leading Cybersecurity Threat Evaluation for the U.S. Wind Fleet

NREL and six leading industry organizations have joined forces in developing a national Wind Cybersecurity Consortium. The consortium aims to improve the cybersecurity of the U.S. wind fleet through collaborative analysis, development, and information sharing. This public-private partnership will allow for the identification of industry-relevant use cases and the development of a platform to improve wind energy threat intelligence.

Learn more about how NREL is improving cybersecurity for wind energy.


NREL Research Explores Security Benefits of 5G for Distributed Energy Operations

New research from NREL explores the security features of 5G, highlighting network-slicing characteristics that can provide enhanced control, protection, and monitoring of distributed energy systems. The researchers propose a new service-based network architecture for connected systems and devices that improve the performance, availability, security, and reliability of grid devices and services.

Read the full story on 5G.

Two Papers on Bulk System Renewable Integration Win Best Paper at 2020 RE Grid Integration Week

At this past year's international RE Grid Integration Week conference, two NREL papers were awarded Best Paper for their contributions to research on the bulk grid integration of renewable resources like wind, solar, and battery storage. The two papers, which share a common set of NREL authors, describe demonstrations of controls and operation strategies for commercial renewable devices. The demonstrations were performed with NREL's Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) platform, and both papers showed how renewables can contribute to grid services and stability.

One paper, Control, Operation, and Stability Characteristics of Grid-Forming Type III Wind Turbines, evaluates the impedance response of a 2.5-MW Type III turbine operating in grid-forming and grid-following modes. The paper concludes that grid-following controls can provide added stability when operating within weak grids. The other paper, Provision of Grid Services by PV Plants with Integrated Battery Energy Storage System, involved a partnership with First Solar to evaluate the ability of multimegawatt solar-plus-storage systems to provide grid reliability services.

Read a recent story about NREL's current and upcoming capabilities for the bulk grid integration of renewables.

JISEA 11th Annual Meeting Connects, Engages, and Educates Attendees

The Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) hosted its 11th annual meeting via webinar as one daily session from April 12–16. True to the newly released Engage: JISEA 2021 Annual Report, panelists and participants engaged in vibrant conversations, including polls and Q&As, on topics ranging from clean energy in industry to sustainable communities. The webinar included a discussion on energy equity between Shalanda Baker, the first-ever U.S. deputy director for energy justice, and Liz Doris, NREL's laboratory program manager for state, local, and tribal governments. "I had a whole series of questions because it was such a provocative talk," one attendee said.

Analysis Advances Understanding of What It Takes To Realize a Circular Economy for Solar Photovoltaic System Materials

Rapidly increasing solar photovoltaic (PV) installations have led to environmental and supply chain concerns. A team of NREL analysts has been leading ongoing research on how to manage retiring PV modules in support of the laboratory's vision of a circular economy for energy materials. The team recently conducted legal- and literature-based research and interviewed solar industry stakeholders, regulators, and policymakers. They published a series of three NREL technical reports, narrowing in on options and opportunities for PV equipment reuse and recycling.

Solar Handbook Explains State of the Art in Measuring and Forecasting Solar Energy

In the near future, solar energy systems will provide a major share of power production around the world. But foundational information to understand and plan for harnessing this massively abundant energy resource is not always straightforward as technologies evolve, costs decline, and the share of solar on the electric grid increases rapidly. To help stakeholders stay on top of the latest in solar resource information, NREL published the third edition of the Best Practices Handbook for the Collection and Use of Solar Resource Data for Solar Energy Applications.

Authored by 41 experts from 14 countries, this handbook was developed in collaboration with NREL, the International Energy Agency's Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme Technology Collaboration Programme Task 16, and the IEA's Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems (SolarPACES) Technology Collaboration Program. The work comprehensively describes the state of the field and serves as a reference document to stakeholders ranging from academic researchers and governments to solar energy professionals and in solar applications that span concentrating solar power, solar photovoltaics, and solar heating and cooling.

Learn more about solar data resources.

Publications Roundup

Hawaii Simulations Show Grid-Supportive Controls for Highly Renewable Systems
The Hawaiian Islands have been a hot spot for renewable innovation as well the site of many power system stability studies between NREL and the local utilities. A report titled Fast Grid Frequency Support from Distributed Energy Resources describes the technical results of simulating Hawaii's power system stability under high penetration levels of inverter-based resources. Distributed solar PV capacity is already near half of Hawaii's peak system load; with ongoing growth in renewables, fast-response controls will be needed to maintain stability, especially as different generations of inverter technologies on the grid operate together.

This report, developed as part of the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium and in collaboration with other laboratories and utility partners, explains the most suitable grid-support controls for solar and storage power inverters to transition safely to more renewable energy. The results from this research have been used to form regulations and standards around power inverters, including IEEE Standard 1547-2018.

Improving Cybersecurity for Photovoltaic Plant Operations
Modern PV power plants increasingly rely on the Internet to perform aspects of operation and management. This increased connectivity introduces many potential security threats not only to the plant but also to the larger electric grid. A new technical report titled Cybersecurity in Photovoltaic Plant Operations examines cybersecurity from the perspective of the PV plant operator and provides guidance for compliance with standards, best practices, and strategies to evolve with the evolving cyber-threat landscape.