Industry Partners Selected for Advanced Grid Management Demonstrations at NREL

July 29, 2022 | By Connor O'Neil | Contact media relations

NREL Researchers work on the ADMS Test Bed in the Power Systems Integration Lab.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected industry leaders Shell, Spirae LLC, Electrical Grid Monitoring Inc. (EGM), and Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to partner with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on power distribution system management and controls.

The partners will participate in two projects recently awarded by DOE, which were competitively selected based on proposals in response to NREL’s Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES) User Call for Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS) Test Bed Use Cases. Both projects will leverage NREL’s ADMS Test Bed to evaluate leading-edge management solutions for the electrical grid.

In one project, Shell, Spirae LLC, and NREL will partner to demonstrate and evaluate a distributed control architecture to manage and optimize grid-edge resources to meet multiple operating objectives. In the other project, Electrical Grid Monitoring Inc., Israel Electric Corporation, and NREL will partner to evaluate the performance impact of enhanced monitoring on power system restoration.

The ADMS Test Bed is a key capability of ARIES, a new research platform at NREL that uses multimegawatt hardware and virtual environments to address the full-scale challenges and opportunities of transitioning to a clean energy future. The ADMS Test Bed consists of software and hardware elements that realistically represent power distribution systems and allow utility and industry users to evaluate forward-looking solutions for managing their changing distribution systems.

The ADMS Test Bed was developed by NREL and the DOE Office of Electricity Advanced Grid Research and Development program through DOE's Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium as a vendor-neutral evaluation platform for advanced grid controls. It works to advance current administration decarbonization goals by promoting integrated management of clean energy assets across the utility enterprise, regardless of vendor or technology.

NREL researchers collaborate in the lab, surrounded by large computer screens.
The ADMS Test Bed at NREL combines an ADMS with real assets and simulated loads to validate modern control and optimization strategies for the distribution grid. Photo by Werner Slocum, NREL

The project with Shell and Spirae LLC will show how utilities and grid-edge energy service providers can best support both end customers and grid operations. Utility grid modeling and ADMS operations are typically conducted only up to end-use points like microgrids and aggregators, which limits the ability to model these end users with sufficient resolution to make sound investment decisions on behalf of energy users. The joint project between "Shell, Spirae LLC, "and NREL will leverage the ADMS Test Bed to address this situation by co-simulating the grid and certain ADMS functions along with end users and their distributed energy resources, energy management systems, and virtual power plants. "Results of this proof of concept will show how utilities can model end-user systems to evaluate the" simultaneous benefits to grid and customer operations.

"The primary objective of this project is to demonstrate how utility operations and distributed energy resource-based energy service platforms can co-optimize benefits to end users and grid operators. This project also focuses on systems that can be deployed in the field to add value to energy consumers immediately," said Annabelle Pratt, chief engineer at NREL.

"We are honored to be selected for this project to bring in the perspective of an energy supermajor—on both sides of the meter—into this research," said Jeremy Pearce, electrification technology program manager at Shell. "Working with NREL and Spirae provides the right integrated approach to this optimization challenge."

The EGM and IEC project with NREL will demonstrate an advanced grid monitoring system and its impact on grid operations. Currently, an ADMS acquires grid information from SCADA systems that are installed in substations, but for grid distribution systems, the distance between substations is too distant to get actionable real-time data. This project will "simulate a distribution network on the ADMS Test Bed to evaluate the impact of an enhanced monitoring solution developed by EGM on fault location, isolation, and service restoration. EGM’s monitoring augmentation aims to assist utility operators in obtaining better situational awareness, improving fault location precision, and reducing outage time."

"Distribution systems require faster, modern methods for fault location, isolation, and restoration. This project will demonstrate one vendor’s solution, providing a case study to learn and build from," said Ismael Mendoza, the project lead at NREL. "Our partnership with EGM and IEC will help inform the energy sector around the value of monitoring downstream power information to enhance the resiliency and reliability of power delivery and management."

Learn about energy systems integration research at NREL.