Advanced Microgrids

Sandia’s microgrid research and development addresses real-time controls, operational optimization, power electronics, protection standards, and community resilience methods and tools.

Microgrid Architectures

A microgrid is a small-scale version of an interconnected electric grid. Microgrids can locally mange the operation of distributed energy resources, such a photovoltaics (PV), wind, electric vehicles, energy-storage, demand response, and thermal energy systems while connected to larger host grid or as an independent power system. Microgrids can be designed to support resilience objectives by maintaining continuity of energy supply when primary sources are affected by natural or manmade disruptions. While the microgrid concept is gaining popularity, many of the cutting-edge hardware, software, and control systems necessary to implement microgrids have yet to be developed, optimized, and validated in real-world situations. Sandia’s Renewable and Distributed Systems Integration, Energy Storage, and Defense Energy programs are developing technologies and applying microgrid solutions nationwide to supply communities with more resilient power.

Key Activities and Capabilities

This project provides direct technical assistance to municipalities, utilities, and community stakeholders to develop nationally-impactful microgrid demonstrations. This project applies methods, models, and tools developed under DOE’s Microgrid Research and Development Program to develop conceptual designs for resilient microgrids that support community resilience objectives. These efforts also inform further research to advance microgrid design methods, models, and tools.
This research focuses on the development of new technologies and design tools for remote microgrids to improve performance and reliability through the use of non-traditional technologies or operating modes. Examples include the utilization of grid forming inverters and energy storage to minimize the use of diesel generation and maximize the use of renewable energy resources while improving response to contingency events. Current efforts involve design and deployment of a grid bridging system in the remote village of St. Mary’s, Alaska, in partnership with Alaska Village Electric Coop (AVEC) and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP).
This project is developing next-generation system protection technologies for low-inertia inverter-dominated systems including microgrids. Current research efforts focus on novel and cyber-secure fault detection and location technologies that work well under low short-circuit current and dynamic system topologies. Novel algorithms are demonstrated with real-time hardware-in-the-loop with different types of inverters and protection relays.
Microgrid Design Toolkit (MDT): MDT is a decision support software that provides designers the information they need to identify an optimal microgrid design for their needs in the early stages of the design process. Employing powerful algorithms, MDT searches the trade space of alternative microgrid designs in terms of user-defined objectives, such as performance, reliability, and cost.
Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS): a Joint Command Technology Development project between the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security to demonstrate that microgrids have the ability to maintain operational surety through secure, reliable, and resilient electric power generation and distribution to mission critical loads.

Key Facilities

Reconfigurable DC and AC microgrids with advanced informatics, cyber security, and nonlinear power control architectures.

Offers unique research capabilities related to distributed energy grid integration technologies, including performance assessment, grid compatibility, communications interoperability and safety evaluations of component and systems.

Explores issues at the intersection of advanced controls, communications latencies, cyber and informatics, remote sensing, and networked power systems.