Energy Department, NREL Launch New Research Center for Grid Integration

June 26, 2013

Photo of a contemporary building with a large rectangular area mostly suspended above the ground in the foreground, and more conventional large structures stretching off to one side.

The new Energy Systems Integration Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is the only Energy Department user facility focused on utility-scale clean energy grid integration.
Credit: Dennis Schroeder, NREL

The Energy Department and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced on June 20 the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, Colorado, as the latest Energy Department user facility and the only facility in the nation focused on utility-scale clean energy grid integration. The facility's first industry partner—Colorado-based Advanced Energy Industries—has already signed on to start work at ESIF, developing lower-cost, better-performing solar power inverters.

Located on NREL's campus, the 182,500-square-foot ESIF is the nation's first facility to help both public- and private-sector researchers scale-up promising clean energy technologies—from solar modules and wind turbines to electric vehicles and efficient, interactive home appliances—and test how they interact with each other and the grid at the utility scale. The ESIF will house more than 15 experimental laboratories and several outdoor test beds, including an interactive hardware-in-the-loop system that lets researchers and manufacturers test their products at full power and real grid load levels. The facility also features a petascale supercomputer that can support large-scale modeling and simulation at one quadrillion operations per second.

As the first industry partner to use ESIF, Advanced Energy Industries is testing its new solar photovoltaic (PV) inverter technology with the facility’s utility-scale grid simulators and hardware-in-the-loop systems. Solar inverters are responsible for a number of critical functions within a solar PV system, including converting the direct current output into alternating current for the grid. Advanced Energy’s inverter will help support a smarter grid that can handle two-way flows of power and communication while reducing hardware costs. See the Energy Department press release.