Autonomous Urbanization and ARIES Validation

NREL’s research into optimized operations for distributed energy systems and world-class emulation capabilities can help communities validate and de-risk investment decisions as urban resident adopt more clean energy technologies such as electric cars and smart buildings.

Traditionally, both the mobility and building domains have operated independently from each other and in an uncontrolled manner, especially with respect to the electric grid. As electric cars become more common and more buildings add smart controls, there are ways to coordinate their interactions with the grid in a scalable way. Optimizing energy use across multiple technology sectors advances the clean energy economy through more efficient and resilient electrification across the entire system. 

Demonstration of this hierarchical and distributed electrification approach through simulation and field validation is key to convincing stakeholders that this is a scalable and innovation-inspiring approach  that can manage the growing complexity of the energy system while maximizing local resilience and operational value across their portfolio.

NREL has developed accurate and detailed models of buildings, vehicles, and their interactions to use in simulations and validations of new controls.  Researchers have also coordinated control strategies at the campus and vehicle fleet level to maximize the operational value of these technologies to the grid. Fundamental to these applications are advancements in the basic research of controls including optimization and control theory, measurements and state estimation, modeling, and uncertainty quantification with a specific focus on highly distributed, scalable approaches that can use increasingly available heterogeneous datasets and integrate across  temporal and spatial scales.

Demonstration is a critical component of this work and NREL has the ideal tool in the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) , a platform that unites research capabilities at multiple scales and across sectors to address the risks and opportunities of energy systems integration. NREL is working toward an ARIES Community Clean Energy Framework, a flexible and modularized community project validation and demonstration approach using ARIES that is capable of supporting communities quickly and nimbly as they vet and implement energy transition investments.

ARIES will emulate real-world conditions in a laboratory setting to validate specific clean energy investments for the community, thereby de-risking investments, proactively identifying previously unforeseeable issues, identifying mitigation solutions, and decreasing project implementation time overall. This validation and demonstration framework will help communities answer pressing questions on their clean energy transition and make high-confidence investments.

Objectives of ARIES Community Clean Energy Framework:

  • Demonstrate pathway(s) to operating a 100% clean energy community
  • Close the gap between project planning, implementation, and operation for communities—reducing clean energy project lead times by up to 50%
  • Reduce project risk for communities by conducting end-to-end demonstration with hardware-in-the-loop to proactively expose and troubleshoot implementation challenges in advance of deployment
  • Connect outputs of ARIES to the modeling and analysis efforts outlined above to quantify the impact to communities.


Jennifer King

Senior Research Engineer