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Energy Systems Integration News

A monthly recap of the latest happenings at the Energy Systems Integration Facility and developments in energy systems integration (ESI) research at NREL and around the world.

February 2017

Read the latest ESI news from NREL.

Graphic for U.S. Department of Energy ENERGISE initiative

DOE Awards $30 Million for Solar Integration, Including $4 Million for NREL

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on January 31 its award of $30 million to 13 projects that will support the integration of solar energy into the nation's electric grid. The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy SunShot Initiative will fund the 13 projects to develop next-generation grid planning and operation tools that help integrate more solar power onto the grid. Called the Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) funding program, it awarded two of the projects to NREL.

The first NREL project, funded with $2.42 million from SunShot and nearly $5 million from cost sharing, involves developing, validating, and deploying a unique and innovative data-enhanced hierarchical control architecture that enables a hybrid control approach, where centralized control systems will be complemented by distributed control algorithms for solar inverters and autonomous control of devices on the "edge" of the grid.

The second project, funded at slightly less than $1.6 million from SunShot with slightly more than $400,000 from cost sharing (for a total of exactly $2 million), involves developing a novel control scheme that provides system-wide monitoring and control using a small fraction of the active devices on the grid. The scheme proactively manages a large number of distributed energy resources (DERs) using only a few measurement points and a few carefully selected control points. The platform gives utilities the capability to seamlessly dispatch DERs along with legacy energy resources. See the EERE Progress Alert and the list of ENERGISE awardees.

Advanced Energy Economy Lists NREL Publications as Required Reading for a Modern Grid

Two NREL publications made Advanced Energy Economy's short list of essential articles that demonstrate the value and benefits distributed energy resources can provide. The NREL papers include Feeder Voltage Regulation with High-Penetration PV Using Advanced Inverters and a Distribution Management SystemDFPDF (also available on ResearchGate) and "Advanced Inverter Functions to Support High Levels of Distributed SolarPDF"PDF."

Read the full article here.

January/February IEEE Power & Energy Magazine Talks Grid Flexibility and Energy Systems Integration

Flexibility of operation—the ability to respond to changes in demand and supply—is critical to integrating higher levels of renewable generation safely onto the electric grid. The January/February IEEE Power & Energy Magazine features six articles that explore new ways to gain flexibility by shifting supply and demand across integrated energy domains. These articles look at innovative ways for natural gas, thermal, and water systems to support grid flexibility as well as the role consumers, policy makers, and regulators can play.

NREL's Ben Kroposki is a guest editor for this issue along with Mark O'Malley. ESI researcher Emiliano Dall'Anese was lead author on the article "Unlocking Flexibility." Read the full issue here.

Next-Generation Pumped Storage Hydropower Project Selected for Funding under DOE's HydroNEXT

The NREL-proposed ternary-type pumped-storage hydropower technology—the fastest-acting and most advanced pumped-storage hydropower system available—was selected for award negotiations under the U.S. Department of Energy Funding Opportunity Announcement "HydroNext: Innovative Technologies to Advance Non-Powered Dam and Pumped-Storage Hydropower Development." Key partners for the project include Absaroka Energy, NaturEner, and GE Renewable Energy.

The team will develop a proof of concept for a flexible pumped-storage hydropower system, designed to address today's energy grid service needs. Researchers aim to improve the ability to integrate variable renewable energy onto the grid by adding sophisticated transmission monitoring and control equipment to the system. NREL researcher Mark Jacobson will lead the effort among three NREL centers: the National Wind Technology Center, the Power Systems Engineering Center, and the Strategic Energy Analysis Center.

NREL is also on the team of Obermeyer Hydro, Inc.'s project on the Concept Feasibility of Innovative Technologies for Closed-Loop Pumped Storage Hydropower Systems, which was also selected. Learn more about selected projects for this opportunity.

NREL to Host Microgrid Controller Innovation Challenge

Supported by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Lab-Bridge pilot program and the Office of Electricity, and in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory, NREL is hosting the Microgrid Controller Innovation Challenge— a competition aimed to spark innovation in microgrid controller technologies—beginning this summer.

Selected microgrid controller vendors will have access to controller-hardware-in-the-loop and power-hardware-in-the-loop test beds from June–November 2017 to improve their technologies and compete for prizes. The competition will have two tracks: one for remote, islanded microgrid applications (~100 kW); and a second for grid-connected microgrid applications (20 MW).

To be considered, applicants must have an existing, commercially available microgrid controller that has been installed in at least three commercial locations or be nominated for the competition by a recognized business incubator, investment firm, utility, or other established business. Domestic and foreign entities are eligible to apply for this opportunity. Individuals are not eligible to apply. Applicants must register to provide their intent to apply by March 31, 2017.

More information will be announced later in March.

Stop By and Talk with Us at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Energy Innovation Summit brings together businesses, investors, and innovators to help move transformational energy technologies out of the lab and into the market. NREL is involved in 12 different projects featured at the summit's technology showcase this year. If you are attending, be sure to stop by to see what we're working on.

Not sure where to find us? We've got you covered. Download this guide to all the NREL booths. Don't miss energy systems integration researchers Emiliano Dall'Anese at Booth 936; Blake Lundstrom at Booth 939; and Bri-Mathias Hodge and Bryan Palmintier at Booth 942. The summit is going on now through March 1 in Washington, D.C.

NREL Researchers Present at American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

NREL researchers Andrew Clifton and Manajit Sengupta and NREL's associate director of Energy Systems Integration, Bryan Hannegan, presented at the 97th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, which took place from January 22­–26.

Clifton co-chaired the Eighth Conference on Weather, Climate, Water, and the New Energy Economy; presented a paper on the use of remote sensing for wind measurements; and presented a poster on high-quality data sets for grid integration studies. Sengupta gave a presentation on the National Solar Radiation Data Base, which NREL manages; and Hannegan took part in a panel discussion on the role of meteorology in the current and future electricity grid. Get event details, materials, and recorded presentations here.

Join Us for Industry Day Workshops and Technology Demonstrations on March 22 & 29

Researchers and partners at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) recently wrapped up several projects under the U.S. Department of Energy's Integrated Network Testbed for Energy Grid Research and Technology Experimentation (INTEGRATE) effort. Among these, partners from OMNETRIC Group, Siemens, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), and Schneider Electric will feature their projects at the ESIF for two Industry Day celebrations and technology demonstrations of each project:

  • March 22: Siemens-OMNETRIC Industry Day: This demonstration will feature the Siemens-OMNETRIC Microgrid Communications and Grid Edge Energy Management system, which incorporates innovative grid edge control communications and a control platform using Siemens' Microgrid Management System and an Open-Field Message Bus (OpenFMB) framework. The new framework enables the electric grid to effectively support large-scale and complex operations, addressing interoperability with equipment and systems operating on the grid.  Participants will receive an overview of INTEGRATE as well as presentations by OMNETRIC, CPS Energy, Duke Energy, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Siemens.

Register now for the free Siemens-OMNETRIC Industry Day, and learn more about the project on the ESIF's OMNETRIC Group partner page.

  • March 29: EPRI-Schneider Industry Day: This demonstration will feature EPRI's Smart and Connected Consumer Devices project and the EPRI-Schneider Electric Communication and Control Systems project, which points to a new framework for distributed resource communications. With the goal to resolve challenges that utilities face in receiving information about the state of their electric grids, the System Communication team combined EPRI's distributed energy resource management system with Schneider Electric's advanced distribution management system to develop communication, information, and computation (CIC) layers that support system-level grid control. EPRI designed, built, and tested its open-source CIC infrastructure, enabling the team to improve interoperability and intelligent control of clean energy, grid edge devices.

Register now for the free EPRI-Schneider Industry Day and learn more about the project on the ESIF's EPRI and Schneider partner page.

Each Industry Day workshop will feature a brainstorming session after technology demonstrations for feedback and future project development as well as a tour of NREL's ESIF laboratories. See the registration pages above for detailed agendas, corporate group rates at the Denver West Marriot, and additional travel information.

U.K.-U.S. Grid Modernization Event Convenes Thought Leaders for Tomorrow's Grid Solutions

In collaboration with the UK Science and Innovation Network, the U.K. Power Networks Demonstration Center, Energy Systems Catapult, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's National Centre for Energy Systems Integration, and the U.S. Department of Energy Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium, NREL co-organized the three-day U.K.-U.S. Grid Modernization Collaboration Workshop at the Energy Systems Integration Facility, held February 28–March 2, 2017.

The event was designed to convene international thought leaders to jointly identify software and hardware innovations that are needed to introduce greater flexibility into the electric grid—and sustain relationships between U.S. and U.K. electricity grid test beds in exchange for researcher and private-sector innovator access. As a follow-up to the event, organizers are producing a report that addresses additional research needed to align the resources of U.S. and U.K. grid research communities as well as to identify existing grid operation challenges within the private sector to determine solutions. Stay tuned for a follow-up article and report in next month's ESI newsletter.

NREL Researchers Win Best Paper at IEEE Power and Energy Conference

"Modeling Stationary Lithium-Ion Batteries for Optimization and Predictive Control,"  led by Emma Raszmann from the University of Pittsburgh and co-authored by NREL researchers Kyri Baker, Ying Shi, and Dane Christensen won a "Best Paper" award at the 2017 IEEE Power and Energy Conference at Illinois. The paper describes a method for modeling stationary batteries for building- and grid-integrated uses. In buildings, microgrids, and small-scale grid studies, a moderate-fidelity model will permit optimizations that account for cost, energy, and battery life degradation while avoiding the computational complexity of the lithium-ion battery models in literature. The paper was led by an undergraduate student with support from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Student Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program, under mentorship of NREL staff in building technologies, power systems and vehicle technologies. NREL project funding was jointly provided by Bonneville Power Administration and DOE's Building Technologies Office.

Read the full paper herePDF.