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NREL + SolarCity: Maximizing Solar Power on Electrical Grids Video Text Version

Below is the text version for the NREL + SolarCity: Maximizing Solar Power on Electrical Grids video.

RYAN HANLEY: The growth of distributed energy resources is becoming real and tangible.

BRYAN HANNEGAN: Solar technologies, particularly those distributed, rooftop, PV solar technologies, add a lot of variability to the energy supply coming onto the grid.

RYAN HANLEY: Reliability has been one of the highest responsibilities or roles of utilities. They have to deliver reliable energy to their customers.

MARTHA SYMKO-DAVIES: Folks that have PV on their rooftops want to make sure at the end of their day that they still have a resilient, energy-efficient system. The Energy Systems Integration Facility is the only place in the country that has utility-scale capabilities in terms of testing and validation.

BRYAN HANNEGAN: Companies that are out there providing power to consumers don't want to experiment with that. They don't want to experiment with their own systems. And so, the ESIF offers them a place just like their own to do the work that will advance clean, affordable, and reliable power.

RYAN HANLEY: Putting actual devices that we use in the field into a live circuit at NREL and doing simulation around it is a capability we can't do anywhere else.

BRYAN HANNEGAN: NREL partnered with SolarCity and HECO to bring together a provider of solar technologies and advanced power electronics and inverters with a utility that had real concerns about operating their grid.

MARTHA SYMKO-DAVIES: SolarCity came in to the Energy Systems Integration Facility. They wanted to better understand how smart inverters would play with Hawaiian Electric. And as an integrator, they wanted to make sure that what they were promoting and what technology they were trying to push forward was actually sound and valid.

RYAN HANLEY: We have five research projects with NREL. The first one is completed, and the results are done, and it's had a tangible impact in the industry, and specifically in Hawaii already. The test relates to a term called transient overvoltage. That was essentially a limiting factor that Hawaiian Electric Company was concerned about as far as installing distributed energy resources on their grid. Once the results came back, it basically said that transient overvoltage was not the limiting factor that we thought it might be. From a technology perspective, it was not the limiting factor on the grid anymore in Hawaii. We have these specific results in Hawaii. We anticipate, and we're getting the interest, to take those results and apply them to utilities across the country. Utilities are reaching out, they're asking about it, and there's an appetite to revisit these limits.

BRYAN HANNEGAN: I'm a big believer in collaboration.

RYAN HANLEY: This sort of collaboration, collaboration with utilities—distributed energy resource providers like SolarCity and national labs like NREL—it's critical because of the pace of change in the industry.

BRYAN HANNEGAN: NREL can be that convening authority, that facilitator for these collaborations to bring groups together in ways that they may not individually do on their own.

RYAN HANLEY: I think this is absolutely the beginning of a new paradigm for relationships on tackling these really challenging topics on the grid.

MARTHA SYMKO-DAVIES: We hope that bringing industry partners, the utility folks together with our staff, our Energy Systems Integration Facility capabilities, all the research teams will be able to have that much further impact towards the smart grid of the future.

RYAN HANLEY: The grid is evolving, and it's one of the biggest assets we have as a country. To change that, to bring a new technology to engage new consumers, and doing all of this in an equitable way that reduces carbon and supports the environment—it's a whole set of large, audacious goals that are incredible to work on.