NREL brings plug and play to smart grid testing


By: SGN Staff


By the end of the year, researchers should have the opportunity to test renewables and other smart grid technologies before hooking them up to the electric grid. DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory is building a series of electrically interconnected laboratories researchers can use to test their technologies in simulated and real settings.


How does the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) work? NREL says its plug and play adaptability will be enabled by the Research Electrical Distribution Bus (REDB) which will act as a power integration circuit able to connect multiple sources of energy, interconnecting laboratories and experiments.


"Each lab in ESIF has its own niche with different kinds of equipment and functionality fostering research on all aspects of energy integration," said NREL electrical engineer Greg Martin. "There is nowhere else where you can bring in a piece of equipment, connect it up, and be testing in a matter of days - along with the type of data acquisition we can provide."


He added that NREL wants to provide a platform where other laboratories, government, industry and utilities can develop technologies for the energy marketplace of the future. ESIF also is working on making virtual connections to other laboratories across the country so they can share their expertise. The facility is expected to be completed by year end.


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