New Projects, On-Site Power, Renewables, Solar

NREL, SolarCity to research distributed solar generation on power grids

The Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and SolarCity have entered into a research agreement to address the operational issues associated with large amounts of distributed solar energy on electrical grids.

The work includes collaboration with the Hawaiian Electric Companies to analyze high penetration solar scenarios using advanced modeling and inverter testing at the Energy Systems Integration Facility. The project is funded in part through an Energy Department solar cost-share program.

The ESIF on NREL’s Golden, Colorado campus, houses a broad array of capabilities and laboratories focused on energy integration research including megawatt-scale power hardware-in-the-loop testing, allowing researchers to analyze distributed generation and distribution devices while connected to a testing system that emulates the characteristics of a power system.

NREL has completed load rejection over voltage (LRO) testing and will be completing ground fault over-voltage testing shortly. This testing will allow Hawaiian Electric to approve photovoltaic (PV) deployments to customers who have been waiting for interconnection on these high penetration solar circuits.

NREL will also evaluate SolarCity’s photovoltaic (PV) generation curtailment hardware and software based on the potential need for PV power curtailment, or the use of less solar power than is available at a specific time, through a remote signal.

Hawaiian Electric is partnering with NREL and SolarCity throughout the process, providing technical input on testing and setup, as well feedback on results.

The research was supported by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Grid Integration Initiative. Funding was equally shared between Solar City and the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative.