Demonstrating Distributed Resource Communications at NREL
This is a whole new way of thinking about the way the grid operates. Grid Modernization Initiative focuses on looking at the big picture in terms of grid reliability, resilience, sustainability – building clean system – affordability, and security. Part of our effort with INTEGRATE, and grid modernization in general, was we saw at DOE a need – with our National Labs – to basically get out of our silos of focusing on just individual technologies and seeing how all those technologies can work together to solve the bigger challenges. The utility role in the utility business model is changing. Now you have reverse power flows – customers being able to push generation onto the grid – and how do we deal with the fluctuation? What does that do the reliability of power and service? So a lot of this orchestration and coordination is more of what’s coming and utilities are thinking more and more about what types of systems they can have in place to help manage this. EPRI’s a key partner of the INTEGRATE project and EPRI’s bringing some technologies that allow us to integrate with them as if they’re other third-party vendors. The goal if the INTEGRATE project is to leverage both new and old technologies to control the distribution feeder. We are looking at various open source solutions using both traditional and new, innovative techniques, which is demand response and DER. For the consumer, what this means is a more stable grid despite what may be occurring with renewable energy that’s along that grid. What ESIF has provided EPRI and our research partners is just a tremendous facility for putting all the pieces together. So this project is a great intermediate step between theory and a field test. You’re going to want to do this in the lab with the devices on the equipment that we’ve developed here before you go out and you spend the money on a field test. This is looking more holistically about the evolution of the new energy landscape, how more energy is changing. There’s going to be electric vehicles – large charging loads – but also having the ability to maybe deliver power back to the grid. The exciting thing about what we’re doing is we’re really just providing a platform. One of the key pieces of INTEGRATE was to not necessarily build out any individual commercial platform in lieu of a variety of other commercial platforms. We’re really trying to build a open-source platform that all commercial entities can come in and play a role in. We can potentially make the system not only more sustainable, but also more affordable.