Smarter Grid Solutions Providing DERMs for NREL Energy Integration, Microgrid R&D Facility

Aug. 24, 2023
NREL’s ESIF also houses a megawatt-scale microgrid evaluation platform that helps utilities study microgrid connections and simulations. These research activities focus on connecting and disconnecting the microgrid from the main utility grid

A National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) research facility that works on utility microgrids is connecting new distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) technology at its Colorado site.

NREL has chosen Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS) to implement the Strata Grid DERMS platform at its Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) near Golden, Colorado, at the Eastern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The 10-year-old ESIF site runs numerous research programs requiring DERMS technology, which handles autonomous operation and coordination of new -generation grid devices and integrates distributed energy resources such as on-site solar and battery storage into grid planning.

NREL’s ESIF also houses a megawatt-scale microgrid evaluation platform that helps utilities study microgrid connections and simulations. These research activities focus on connecting and disconnecting the microgrid from the main utility grid and operating the microgrid in both grid-connected and island mode.

Microgrids are made up of distributed, on-site power resources such as solar panels, gas or diesel generators and battery storage.

“DERMS-related research is core to the integrated, multi-disciplinary work happening at ESIF,” Sarah Williams, research project manager at NREL’s ESIF facility, said in a statement announcing the deal with SGS. “We are confident we are developing a powerful toolbox with SGS to address both existing and future use cases.”

NREL’s work on DERMS is designed to help utilities and electric cooperatives enhance control and visibility into distributed energy-connected systems, whether those are renewable energy assets charging into the main grid or bidirectional resources included in microgrid formats of the future. Many utilities and co-ops are working on or considering microgrids in parts of their service territories.

“SGS is excited to partner with NREL on their research in the DERMS realm,” Jon Grooters, director of utility solutions at SGS, said in the release. “We expect to see very interesting and exciting learnings from this partnership.”

NREL has been involved in modeling, testing and deployment of microgrids for more than two decades.

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About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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