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Think small: microgrids offer the flexibility, quick response and control, and security that the larger grid can't. NREL's cyber-physical test platform for microgrids reduces deployment risks and helps optimize hardware, communications, and security performance.

Photo of three men standing in front of microgrid hardware in a laboratory

NREL's megawatt-scale (MW) microgrid research at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) allows manufacturers and integrators to test out their technology or configuration at actual power before implementation—something only possible at a handful of facilities in the world.

At the ESIF, we can also add an important communications layer that connects a real-time simulated network and network devices to the power devices and systems under test. This cyber-physical test platform makes it possible to test not only factors such as microgrid power quality and transitions between modes but also communications protocols and latency, and bandwidth requirements for the microgrid controller.

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What Our Partners Say

"The results of the work being accomplished in the ESIF laboratory are truly amazing, and representing MCAS Miramar, I can honestly say that it has accomplished a huge amount of risk mitigation for when (the microgrid) gets installed on base. As I said in the lab, seeing a completely renewable energy system, that scale and complexity, island and perform as envisioned, was the most fun I've ever had at work. It truly felt like history in the making."
- Mick Wasco, PE, CEM, Installation Energy Manager, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar

Network Simulator-in-the-Loop Testing

  • OMNeT++: simulates a network and links with real computers and virtual hosts.

Power Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation

  • OPAL-RT and RTDS real-time simulation platforms for running power system models concurrently with actual hardware at power, in real time.
  • Emulation of electric grid (e.g., distribution feeder and other assets).


  • 1-MW high-bandwidth grid simulator: a completely programmable AC power source is decoupled from the utility.
  • High-resolution load banks: independent phase control, programmable load profiles, and a full range of power factors make it possible to test a wide variety of load scenarios.
  • Diesel generators: because diesel generators are traditional microgrid components, three different generator sets with various control options are available for microgrid integration efforts.
  • DC power supplies: the ESIF's full suite of DC simulation capability includes a 1.5-MW photovoltaic (PV) simulator, three bidirectional DC supplies for battery simulation up to 700 kilowatts (kW), and a 10-kW rooftop PV array.
  • Lithium-ion batteries: 100-kW and 80-kWh packs for use in both controls and power electronics development as well as microgrid integration work.
  • Advanced inverters: an array of advanced grid-interactive PV and hybrid inverters is available, ranging from 3-kW residential to 2050-kW commercial and 500-kW central station.
  • Microgrid controller: NREL recently purchased a Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories microgrid controller, enabling the ESIF to more readily conduct research on the hardware, communications, and security performance of an entire microgrid and its components.


Photo of two men looking at microgrid technology in a laboratory


NREL validated an advanced microgrid system that draws on batteries and solar energy for its power for installation at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which received the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program's 2016 Project-of-the-Year Award.

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Photo of three researchers examining computer screens in a laboratory

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

Australia's national science agency and NREL are evaluating a plug-and-play microgrid control solution.

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Photo of energy storage system hardware in a laboratory

Erigo and EaglePicher

NREL is helping to validate an energy storage system for a microgrid that contains three independently controllable energy storage technologies.

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Photo of the Consolidated Utility Base Energy (CUBE) system, a solar, battery, and generator hybrid microgrid, in a laboratory


NREL partnered to develop the Consolidated Utility Base Energy (CUBE) system—a solar, battery, and generator hybrid microgrid that will provide electricity to the Army's forward operating bases.

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Brian Miller

Strategic Team Lead | Microgrids | 303-275-4917

Greg Martin

Electrical Engineer | 303-384-7039

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