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EPRI and Schneider Electric Demonstrate Distributed Resource Communications at NREL

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is designing, building, and testing a flexible, open-source, consensus-standards-based infrastructure for the communication, information, and computation (CIC) layers needed to support system-level control of the distribution grid.

Such control is well-suited for the integration and evaluation of high-penetration clean energy technologies. The project is being supported by Schneider Electric, which incorporated their Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) to enable the coordinated management of traditional distribution controls along with enhanced control of distributed energy resources. 

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The EPRI CIC framework includes an enterprise integration test environment, the Schneider Electric ADMS, open software platforms, an open-platform home energy management system, communication modules, and applications. The installed equipment includes a simulated 10-mile-long feeder, which ensures that the system architecture is consistent with that of an electric utility. The Schneider Electric ADMS was populated with a model of the physical environment and configured to communicate with various network devices and DERMS and DRMS solutions. This provided the means to monitor the environment in real time, calculate the appropriate action, and initiate automatic control commands to satisfy a series of test cases such as overvoltage events, overload events, reverse power flow events, etc. The research setup used the ESIF's solar photovoltaic simulator and connected devices in the Systems Performance Laboratory. The project partners are actively working to increase the innovation already achieved.

“The communication system solutions that we developed were integrated in order to model, monitor, analyze, control, and optimize a simulated utility grid in combination with physical feeder and edge devices such as capacitor banks, voltage regulators, solar inverters, pool pumps, water heaters, and more. But most importantly, this project advanced and validated new integration and communication standards required to support the adoption and deployment of distributed energy resources.” - Scott Koehler, vice president of global strategy for Schneider Electric’s Smart Grid IT division