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Autonomous Energy Grids

NREL is investigating autonomous energy grids by applying emerging concepts such as autonomous systems to electric grids.

By focusing on basic research in optimization theory, control theory, big data analytics, and complex system theory, we aim to develop a flexible planning and operation framework that can keep pace with the complexity of modern electric grids. A key aspect of this research is developing mechanisms for distributed grid control and optimization. Unlike current systems that rely on centralized computing platforms for grid control, autonomous energy grids could self-organize and control themselves using advanced machine learning and simulation. To do this, autonomous energy grids would rely on scalable cellular blocks that are able to act similar to microgrids, self-optimizing when islanded and participating in optimal operation when interconnected to a larger grid.

In addition to the advantages autonomous energy grids offer in terms of grid operations, they provide considerable benefits to resilience by eliminating single points of failure in monitoring and controlling the grid. This ensures that system operation is secure against attacks and resilient to outages, contingencies, and natural disasters.


Innovative Optimization and Control Methods for Highly Distributed Autonomous Systems, April 11–12, 2019

Autonomous Energy Grids Workshop, Sept. 13–14, 2017


Autonomous Energy Grids, 51st Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (2018)

Basic Research Needs for Autonomous Energy Grids: Summary Report of the Workshop on Autonomous Energy Grids: September 13–14, 2017, NREL Technical Report (2017)


Ben Kroposki | 303-275-2979