Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration

Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration 2018-05-30T17:04:56+00:00

Sandia conducts multi-disciplinary R&D on technologies that enable grid modernization and large-scale deployment of renewable and distributed energy resources.

Addressing the Challenges

The growing deployment of renewable and distributed energy resources means that prosumers and utilities have multiple options to manage energy production, distribution, and consumption. Planning and operating these resources optimally represents a significant challenge. Renewable generation is variable and uncertain. Distributed energy resources are deployed in low voltage networks that were not originally designed to host large amounts of generation. To achieve large-scale renewable and distributed energy resources deployment and realize a reliable, resilient, flexible, secure, and efficient power system, we need updated interconnection and interoperability standards, new power electronics and control technologies, advanced simulation and analysis stools, new operating practices and procedures, robust cyber/communication infrastructure, and agile regulatory and market environments. Sandia’s Renewable and Distributed Systems Integration R&D Program contributes to achieving this vision, drawing upon world-class expertise in grid analysis, cybersecurity, complex systems, optimization, controls, power electronics, as well as enabling technologies such as energy storage and microgrids.

Research Areas

Sandia develops and applies advanced modeling and simulation techniques to analyze the impact of large-scale deployment of distributed energy resources and renewable energy on the grid. Sandia develops and validates multi-domain models for grid analysis and advanced decision support tools to support research activities and partner with industry to incorporate these advances into next-generation operations and planning commercial software. Sandia pioneered computationally efficient and scalable quasi-static time series (QSTS) power flow and stochastic analysis techniques to analyze high-penetration of distributed energy resources in distribution feeders. Sandia also pioneered the development of dynamic models for wind and solar generation and advanced stochastic methods to optimize system planning and operations.

Sandia improves the performance, efficiency, and reliability of next generation inverters and converters with expertise in wide bandgap device physics and fabrication, development of novel converter architectures, and optimal control of distributed energy resources aggregations as part of microgrids or virtual power plants.

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Sandia works with industry and utilities to validate and demonstrate new smart grid technologies using laboratory experiments and real-world demonstrations. Sandia applies automated testing platforms to evaluate cybersecurity, interoperability, grid compatibility, controls performance, reliability, and safety of renewable energy and distributed energy resources devices and systems. These activities involve control and power hardware-in-the-loop (c/p-HIL) capabilities. Some examples are Sandia’s SCEPTRE Emulytics, combining controls, cybersecurity, communications, and power systems domains; and the System Validation Platform (SVP), a c-HIL which accelerates the development, certification, and standardization of distributed energy resources technologies through rapid and fully automated laboratory evaluation. Sandia also conducts full-scale demonstrations involving customer and utility assets.

Sandia is a major contributor to standards related to renewable and distributed energy resources performance, safety, interoperability, and cybersecurity. Major contributions include arc fault detection and mitigation, communications interoperability, disturbance tolerance, and grid support functionality. Contributions span scientific basis, development of testing procedures, and harmonization across the industry.

Sandia maintains integrated laboratory facilities, including the Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory (DETL), Control & Optimization of Networked Energy Technologies (CONET) Laboratory, and Secure and Scalable Microgrid (SSM) Testbed, to evaluate and optimize performance, reliability, and safety of renewable and distributed energy resources under real-world conditions. Integrating actual, emulated, and simulated components, controls, and networks, Sandia’s R&D platforms can be used to analyze a wide variety of scenarios relevant to civilian and military applications.

Featured Projects

Solar PV Integration

GridPV Toolbox is a fully-documented set of Matlab functions that can be used to build distribution grid performance models using the open source distribution modeling tool OpenDSS. The GridPV functions are useful for interfacing OpenDSS and Matlab to perform sophisticated analyses and graphically representing information from simulations. A set of functions is also included for modeling PV plant output in the OpenDSS simulation.

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Funded by the DOE Sunshot program, this project will help utility companies better visualize, manage, and protect power systems as they include increasing numbers of distributed energy resources such as wind and solar by creating open-source advanced distribution management system (ADMS) algorithms.

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This project analyzes expected availability and response time metrics for distributed solar, develops cyber security architectures, and evaluates promising approaches with hardware in-the-loop experiments.

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Quasi-static time series (QSTS) is needed to simulate and understand interactions of PV variability and the benefits of smart grid controls. This project will accelerate QSTS simulation capabilities through new and innovative methods for advanced time-series analysis. Sandia has pioneered computationally efficient and scalable QSTS power flow and stochastic analysis techniques to analyze high-penetration of distributed energy resources in distribution feeders.

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With national and international partners, Sandia leads working groups for multiple collaborations, including the Smart Grid International Research Facility Network (SIRFN) within the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN); IEEE 1547; UL 1741; and Smart Grid Interoperable Panel (SGIP).

Learn more about Sandia’s work on advanced microgrids.

Grid Modernization

Seeking to obtain 90% of the state’s energy from renewable sources by 2050, the State of Vermont and its electric utilities turned to Sandia for technical support and analysis to improve load forecasting and model and optimize the integration of distributed energy resources and energy storage. This project used an integrated approach to enable the high penetration of renewables at the distribution level and will serve as a template for other utilities across the United States.

The automated system validation platform (SVP) quickly determines the performance of distributed energy resources equipment for a range of interoperable and interconnection functions. This technology has been developed under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the SunSpec Alliance and is used by labs across the globe in the Smart Grid International Research Facility Network (SIRFN) project.

This project provides utilities, grid operators, and distributed energy resource aggregators with a greater capacity to provide voltage and frequency regulation and other grid support functions by aggregating distributed energy resources into secure, reliable virtual power plants (VPP). The VPP optimizes distributed energy resource dispatch and real-time control under high uncertainty.


Upcoming Webinar: Distributed Control for Improving Power System Stability

On April 12, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. ET, Sandia’s David Copp will present an IEEE Smart Grid Webinar: “Distributed Control for Improving Power System Stability.” Power systems consist of many components distributed across wide geographic [...]

Sandia’s Energy Programs Organize Three Symposia at Spring MRS Symposium, April 2-6

Researchers from Sandia’s energy programs have organized three symposia for the 2018 MRS Spring Meeting in Phoenix, AZ. The symposia sessions will discuss topics that include flow batteries for grid energy storage, harvesting natural and [...]

Grid Innovation at Sandia Recognized with Two R&D 100 Awards

Sandia Researcher John Eddy, OE Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Pesin, OE Assistant Secretary Bruce Walker, and Sandia Researcher Abraham Ellis (L-R). Not pictured: OE’s Microgrid R&D Program Manager Dan Ton. On March 14th, [...]

New Webinar Series Highlights Role of Energy Storage in Future Electric Power Sector

In partnership with Strategen Consulting, Sandia National Laboratories and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity Energy Storage Program will host four webinars that will bring together top thought leaders to discuss a wide [...]

For additional information on the video above, read the Industry Spotlight Q&A with Jay Johnson.

Abraham Ellis | Ph: 505.844.7717 | Renewable and Distributed Systems Integration Program Manager

Abraham Ellis oversees Sandia’s Renewable and Distributed Systems Integration program, encompassing a diverse portfolio of projects that support the DOE Grid Modernization Initiative and various DOE Technology Offices. He has expertise in system planning and operations, generator interconnection analysis and procedures, and modeling and simulation of renewable energy and flexible alternating current transmission system (FACTS). Dr. Ellis has chaired or contributed to NERC/IEEE/WECC committees and working groups developing models for renewable and distributed energy resources and updating reliability standards appropriate for renewable and distributed generation. Prior to Sandia, he worked at Public Service Company of New Mexico’s Transmission Planning and Operations department. Dr. Ellis graduated from New Mexico State University’s Electric Utility Management Program.

Olga Lavrova | Ph: 505-845-3166 | Systems Reliability, Manufacturing, and Diagnostics

Olga Lavrova is a principal member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories. Olga has performed groundbreaking work in power electronics, sensors and materials for grid applications. Currently, she leads a number of projects overseeing lifetime, reliability and survivability of traditional and renewable energy sources at Sandia. Previously, she was Professor at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Lavrova has been a PI on multiple DOE- and NSF-funded grants concentrating on fundamental semiconductor materials and devices operation, as well as their cost-effective, economical and practical deployment and grid integration. Dr. Lavrova has authored and co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and 6 US patents.

Jay Johnson | Ph: 505.284.9586 | Smart Grid Integration

Jay Johnson is a senior member of technical staff and leads a number of multidisciplinary, international renewable energy research projects including the coordination of advanced distributed energy resource (DER) interoperability testing in the United States, Europe, and Asia through the Smart Grid International Research Facility Network (SIRFN). Previously, he led the US-Japan collaborative research project on utility-scale PV-smoothing controls using a gas genset and battery at the Mesa del Sol Aperture Center and PNM Prosperity Site. Jay spearheads a laboratory directed research and development project on Virtual Power Plants to provide ancillary services and an internal capabilities development project focused on power system and DER cyber security. Jay Johnson received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla and an M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Jason Neely | Ph: 505.845.7677 | Power Electronics and Controls

Jason C. Neely is a researcher at Sandia and has been focusing on power electronics and power electronic converter systems, including microgrid systems, grid integration of renewable energy and energy storage, military power systems, and circuit design for wide bandgap devices since 2010. Previously, he worked in the Intelligent Systems & Robotics Center from 2001-2007. He received his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue for development of new control techniques for power electronics, and earned his B.S. & M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla.

Robert Broderick | Ph: 505.366.1120 | Utility Distribution Systems Analysis

Robert Broderick is a principal member of technical staff and has led Sandia’s Distribution Grid Integration Program since 2012, a program that has produced leading research on the grid integration of distributed energy resources (DER). Robert’s primary research focus is to remove barriers to greater integration of distributed energy resources into the electricity grid by investigating grid impact simulation and modeling including quasi static time series analysis, hosting capacity analysis, regulatory rules and standards, and resiliency. Prior to working for Sandia, Robert worked as a consultant for TRC Engineers, Inc.  focused on solving problems for PV project developers and performing comprehensive grid integration studies for utility clients. Robert worked at PNM (largest IOU utility in New Mexico) as the manager of renewables and developed and managed the successful customer-side PV program, which is expected to achieve over 20 MW of new PV installations in PNM’s service territory. Robert also worked as a senior power engineer in PNM’s Distribution Planning Department and Customer Generation Department. Robert took a lead role in writing New Mexico’s new interconnection standard utilizing industry best practices and IEEE 1547. Robert is a Professional Electrical Engineer and received a master’s degree in power systems engineering from New Mexico State University and a B.A. in Physics from University of Colorado at Boulder.

Jack Flicker | Ph: 505.284.6810 | Power Electronics Materials and Systems

Jack Flicker is a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia.  His research focuses on power electronics and power electronic converter systems.  Since joining Sandia in 2011, Jack’s research has encompassed the entire value chain of power electronics from materials to systems, specifically focusing on the performance and reliability of advanced semiconductor devices, including wide and ultra-wide bandgap devices; design of advanced circuit topologies for power conversion systems; performance, safety, and reliability of power conversion systems; and interconnection and grid support of power converters for microgrid and interconnected grid applications.  Jack received his Ph.D. (2011) in Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology for investigating nanoscale back surface collectors for polycrystalline photovoltaic materials.  He earned B.S. degrees in physics and chemistry from the Pennsylvania State University in 2006.

Sigifredo Gonzalez | Ph: 505.845.8942 | Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory

Sigifredo Gonzalez is a principal member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories, and works in the area of utility interconnection standards and grid integration. He currently a working group member of IEEE 1547 full revision and a chair for the revision to IEEE 1547.1 section 5.7 Unintentional Islanding test procedure. Concentrating efforts include laboratory evaluations of electrical power system support function developments in prototype inverters, PV system performance assessments, PV system NEC code compliance and reliability, and PV system  interoperability assessments for communication implementation of advanced inverter functions.  Sigifredo directs laboratory assessments of PV inverter at the distributed energy technologies laboratory (DETL) at Sandia. He has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Matthew Lave | Ph: 925.294.4676 | Power Electronics Materials and Systems

Matthew Lave is a Senior Member of the Technical Staff. He is an expert at monitoring, analysis, and modeling of PV power production, both for performance assessment and for grid integration studies. Matthew has authored many peer-reviewed journal articles on topics such as solar resource assessment, PV performance modeling, solar variability analysis, optimal tilt angles for PV modules, and the impact of solar variability to electric grid operations. He developed the wavelet variability model (WVM) which is now widely used by researchers, consultants, and utilities for modeling the aggregate solar variability of distributed or utility scale PV plants. Matthew received his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of California, San Diego for developing new methods for modeling and analysis of high-frequency solar variability. He also holds a B.A. in Physics from Occidental College.

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