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:


Modeling Tools, Control Strategies, and Improved Weather Forecasting Enable More Renewables on the Grid

Transitioning to a renewables-intensive future, a goal supported by many US states, presents numerous technical challenges. Distributed energy resources (DER), such as solar and wind, have variable power outputs that can impact grid performance and [...]

Grid-Scale Vanadium Flow Energy Storage System to be Installed at NELHA

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA) in partnership with Hawai‘i Electric Light Company (HELCO), the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity (DOE-OE), the Ulupono Initiative, and UniEnergy Technologies (UET) have announced their [...]

Sandia Testifies in Cordova, Alaska Hearing about Microgrids

Abraham Ellis, manager of Sandia’s Photovoltaic and Distributed Systems Integration Department, testified last week on microgrid technologies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at a field hearing in Cordova, Alaska. During the hearing, [...]

Registration is Open for the 2nd Secure & Resilient Microgrid Design Summit

The 2nd Sandia & EPRI Secure & Resilient Microgrid Design Summit will be co-located with APRISE 2017 and the Defense Energy Technology Challenge July 19-20 at the beautiful Hale Koa Hotel on Fort DeRussy Armed [...]

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

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

Jay Johnson | Ph: 505.284.9586 | Smart Grid Integration

Jason Neely | Ph: 505.845.7677 | Power Electronics and Controls

Robert Broderick | Ph: 505.366.1120 | Utility Distribution Systems Analysis

Sigifredo Gonzalez | Ph: 505.845.8942 | Distributed Energy Technologies Laboratory

Contact Us