Resilience With 100% Renewable Power (Text Version)

This is the text version of the video Resilience With 100% Renewable Power.

As solar and wind installations soar, we hear doubts about operating large grids with high levels of renewable energy.

Critics say:

"Wind and solar are too variable."

"What happens when the sun goes down or when the wind doesn't blow?"

"Renewables alone cannot recover from a blackout."

But at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, these doubts don't line up with our experience.

We've powered one of our campuses with 100% wind, solar, and batteries, and our approach can extend to much larger systems. In fact, we have clear technical solutions to reach full-renewable operation on systems as big as states or regional power grids. And with some of our partners, a 100% renewable future is not far away—NREL is validating their options today on commercially available equipment at relevant scales.

Using a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine, a 450-kilowatt PV system, and a 1-megawatt Lithium-ion battery, NREL was able to demonstrate 72 hours of continuous operation of our buildings' loads using only renewable energy.

This animation shows real data from NREL's 100% renewable energy power system, operated throughout a single day.

Electrical lines are all underground and connect the wind turbine, PV system, and battery to the buildings.

At the start of the day, the PV system charges the battery and provides electricity to the buildings.

During the day, when small clouds pass by, the battery helps smooth the power to the buildings.

As night falls, the PV system stops producing energy and the wind turbine starts.

At night a mix of battery and wind energy is used to power nighttime loads.

Note that the battery is again used to smooth the power provided to the buildings, thereby providing continuous power from a 100% renewable energy system.

One unique aspect of this demonstration was the use of innovative controls that do not require any communications between the wind turbine, PV system, and battery.

This concept of zero communications is scalable to much larger applications, like the islands of Hawaii where NREL is helping transition to 100% renewables, or on larger mainland power grids like the Western Interconnection that spans the entire U.S. West.

Finally, NREL was also able to demonstrate the ability of this type of system to start from blackout condition using grid-forming inverters. This capability will be critical for ensuring overall grid reliability and resilience.

At NREL, we are using the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems or ARIES research platform to demonstrate large renewable power grids. ARIES combines a variety of technology types, simulation capabilities, and data resources to evaluate advanced concepts on actual energy systems.

Our results with ARIES suggest there is nothing to fear about a fully renewable grid. With the right design and controls, renewable energy can be stabilizing, energy-efficient, and resilient at any level on the grid, and with innovative tools and real-system examples, NREL is showing how to make this a reality.

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