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NREL Leads Working Group to Standardize Testing for “Smart” Solar Inverters

August 12, 2015

Adapted from Energy.gov:

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which establishes standards and testing protocols for electrical and electronic components, including solar inverters, recently passed amendment 1547.1a, which standardizes inverter testing protocols and procedures for three advanced inverter functionalities: regulating voltage, riding through abnormalities of grid voltage, and providing modulated power output in response to abnormal grid frequency. It also created two new type tests to assess response to abnormal frequency conditions and capability for voltage regulation. 

These developments are significant for the solar industry. Manufacturers of advanced inverters for solar applications now have industry-accepted standard test protocols to guarantee their products, and utilities can now turn to these advanced inverters as additional options for stability and reliability of the electric grid.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, NREL energy systems integration researchers led the IEEE 1547.1a working group and coordinated the research with private industry and universities. Sandia National Laboratories developed and validated test procedures for grid interoperability, tested protocols for advanced inverter functionality, and provided validated measurement capabilities to distributed energy resource communities.

IEEE's 1547.1a amendment is a significant milestone that will enable the solar industry to benefit from the additional grid resilience that advanced inverters provide, while ensuring that all grid-connected inverters meet defined standards for safety and reliability. Ultimately, it will allow for high levels of solar energy to be integrated into the nation's power system in a safe, reliable, and cost-effective manner.

—Wayne Hicks