Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration

Renewable Energy and Distributed Systems Integration 2018-03-08T00:16:20+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

Electric power grids are facing a major transformation, driven by growing deployment of renewable and distributed energy resources, along with a wide variety of related smart grid technologies that allow prosumers and utilities to optimally manage energy production, distribution, and consumption. This transformation poses major technical, policy, and regulatory challenges: renewable generation is variable and uncertain and distributed energy resources are deployed in low voltage networks that were not originally designed to host large amounts of generation.

As it evolves, the smart grid will require advanced analysis tools and methods, as well as an increased reliance on automation to create a more reliable, resilient, flexible, secure, and efficient power system. Sandia’s Distributed and Renewable Grid Integration R&D Program contributes to achieving this vision, drawing upon expertise in a wide range of science and engineering disciplines including cybersecurity, complex systems, optimization, controls, power electronics, and enabling technologies such as energy storage and microgrids.

Sandia maintains and continually improves R&D capabilities, including unique multi-domain design and characterization platforms for grid devices and systems, and a rich set of partnerships with government agencies, national laboratories, universities, and industry stakeholders.

Research Areas

Sandia’s smart grid and microgrid R&D program develops new devices, controls, methods, and analysis tools to design distribution systems and microgrids that enable large-scale deployment of distributed energy resources and renewable energy. Sandia also conducts laboratory validation and full-scale demonstrations showcasing disruptive solutions including advanced simulation tools, new power electronics concepts, adaptive control and protection systems, and new testing methodologies and standards.

Featured Projects:

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 panning and operations.

Featured Projects:

Sandia has a comprehensive power electronics and controls R&D program focusing on improving performance, efficiency, and reliability of next generation inverters and converters. These capabilities extend to expertise in wide bandgap device physics and fabrication and to the development of novel controls for distributed energy resources aggregation into microgrids or virtual power plants.

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.

Featured Projects:

With major stakeholders, Sandia pursues standardization or implementation of best practices related to interconnection, interoperability, and safety of renewable energy and distributed energy resources. Sandia has been a major contributor to standards related to arc fault detection and mitigation, interoperability, disturbance tolerance, and grid support functionality. Sandia’s contributions span scientific basis, development of testing procedures, and harmonization across the industry. With national and international partners, Sandia leads working groups under the International Smart Grid Action Network Smart Grid (ISGAN) International Research Facility Network (SIRFN), IEEE 1547, Smart Inverter Working Group, UL 1741, Smart Grid Interoperable Panel (SGIP), and multiple other collaborations.

Jay Johnson, Principal Member of Technical Staff, conducting research in the Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory.

Sandia maintains integrated laboratory facilities that provide capabilities for real-world R&D of renewable and distributed energy resources technologies.  These facilities, combined with technical expertise in power electronics, cybersecurity, high performance computing, visualization, controls, and reliability science, provide a test platform to support advanced R&D on a wide variety of civilian and military applications:


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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.

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.

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