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INTEGRATE Partner Demonstrates Active Network Management of Distributed Energy Resources at NREL

April 28, 2016

New York-based Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS) has employed its Active Network Management (ANM) system at NREL to manage and maintain a modeled distribution grid within normal operating limits through the autonomous management, coordination, and control of distributed energy resources (DER) in real time. SGS started by demonstrating that its system could monitor a home's smart meter data and control the power flow from the home's solar photovoltaic (PV) system to the home itself, to an electric vehicle (EV), and to and from the home's energy storage system.

The company then demonstrated its ability to wield the same level of control across a smart campus by simulating this capability in the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF). The ESIF simulations included a 1-megawatt grid simulator, 500-kilowatt controllable load banks, a 500-kilowatt PV inverter, a 500-kilowatt battery inverter, a Nissan Leaf (with four additional Leafs in the simulation), creating a virtual smart campus that was then interconnected to an actual distribution network. The simulations proved the ANM system's ability to provide power flow control and voltage control for a campus with a high penetration of solar power. For instance, when the PV system generated too much power for the distribution grid, the ANM system directed some of the power to the battery and the EVs to avoid curtailing the PV power.

The next phase of the project will expand to demonstrate the coordination and real-time management of aggregated smart homes, the smart campus, and additional community- or utility-scale clean energy for an entire distribution grid.

"We are thankful for NREL's support and partnership on this project, which has provided us with an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate the full potential of our ANM Strata platform with the physical DER devices and real-time simulation environments at the ESIF," said Bob Currie, CTO and co-founder of SGS. "Our advisory board got to witness our technology delivering a range of DER integration use cases, consider the tangible benefits it can bring to utilities and the developer community, and discuss the opportunities for the industry to accelerate the adoption of real-time DER management for increased grid hosting capacity--all in the surroundings of the world-class facilities at NREL."

The effort is part of NREL's Integrated Network Testbed for Energy Grid Research and Technology Experimentation (INTEGRATE) project, a $6.5-million, cost-shared project managed by NREL and involving five partnerships that are aiming to allow renewable energy systems and other clean energy technologies to be connected to a "smart" power grid in a "plug-and-play" manner, similar to how computers automatically connect to new devices plugged in by the users. INTEGRATE is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Grid Modernization Initiative.

The project includes an industry advisory board that will help inform the use case requirements and includes members from Pecan Street Inc., NRG Energy, New York State Smart Grid Consortium, Con Edison, National Grid, Avangrid, NextEra, RES Americas, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and SIMARD SG.

See who else is partnering with NREL's energy systems integration team.

—Wayne Hicks