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IEEE Publishes NREL-Led Standard for DER Evaluation

June 1, 2020

Picture of a group of solar panels in thick vegetation with a rainbow behind them.

The IEEE 1547.1 standard specifically covers the interconnection of any DER on the grid and updates DER requirements to participate with the grid in more sophisticated, stability-enhancing ways. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL.

For almost two decades, the growth of renewable energy has been catalyzed by the combination of early adopters, their setbacks, and the electrical standards that build from those lessons. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has led the creation and recreation of these standards, including a significant revision to the most relevant standard for renewables, IEEE 1547-2018. Now, NREL has helped see another standard to publication: IEEE 1547.1-2020, which clarifies the test and evaluation procedures to ensure distributed energy resources (DERs) comply with 1547-2018.

Like its parent standard, 1547.1 specifically covers the interconnection of any DER on the grid. And like its revised parent standard, 1547.1-2020 updates DER requirements to participate with the grid in more sophisticated, stability-enhancing ways. With the revised publication of 1547.1, led by NREL Senior Engineer Andy Hoke, DERs will be subject to a new set of evaluations that verify responses to voltage and frequency conditions, faults, islanding, and other power events as described in 1547-2018.

“The publication of 1547.1-2020 serves as the ‘go’ signal for the PV industry and other DERs to update their products to support the grid in ways that will allow very high levels of deployment while helping ensure stable and reliable grid operations,” Hoke said.

Hoke chaired an IEEE working group over the course of four years to revise the standard, which published on May 21, 2020. The group incorporated comments from industry and technical review panels and validated 1547.1-2020’s test procedures within NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility. The additions that the working group made to 1547.1 expand previous testing requirements—which mostly concerned in-lab testing of solar inverters and similar devices—to other evaluations, including field tests and an on-paper evaluation of the DERs’ installation.

The publication of 1547.1-2020 has set in motion further steps for the larger standards community. The UL 1741 standard, which is used to certify DER devices, will now be updated to incorporate changes to 1547.1. Following that revision, inverter manufacturers will update and recertify products to conform to the new UL 1741, leading to a new generation of grid-supportive inverters.

1547.1-2020 also extends new communications criteria to the purview of the standard, outlining how DER communications testing should relate to power testing and creating progress toward DER communications interoperability, a standards space that is shared with IEEE 2030 for the interoperability of smart grid technology with the power system and the IEEE 1815 standard for distributed communication networks on power systems.

The 1547 standard series has become the cornerstone for grid stability and reliability, as DERs make up an ever-larger share of generation. Using 1547.1, future power systems can avoid the pitfalls of past systems and safely continue to integrate renewable energy onto the grid. The standard brings clarity to device manufacturers and stability to a fast-changing power system.

Learn more about IEEE 1547-2018.

Since the start of energy systems integration research at NREL, its researchers have been ahead of standards-setting efforts for the modern grid. Check back for an upcoming feature about NREL leadership in power system standards.