Golden, CO, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — June 24, 2013 – The Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, Colorado, has been announced as the latest U.S. Energy Department user facility and the only one in the nation focused on utility-scale clean energy grid integration.
The facility also has its first industry partner, Colorado-based Advanced Energy Industries, which has signed on to work at ESIF on the development of lower cost, better performing solar power inverters.
“Our national laboratories are a national treasure that helps America’s entrepreneurs and innovators to accelerate the development of new technologies,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “This new facility will allow for an even stronger partnership with manufacturers, utilities and researchers to help integrate more clean renewable energy into a smarter, more reliable and more resilient power grid.”
Located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) campus in Golden, the 182,500-square-foot ESIF will help both public and private sector researchers scale-up promising clean energy technologies – from solar modules and wind turbines to electric vehicles and efficient, interactive home appliances – and test how they interact with each other and the grid at utility-scale.
ESIF will house more than 15 experimental laboratories, including electricity, thermal and fuel laboratories, and several outdoor test beds, among them an interactive hardware-in-the-loop system that lets researchers and manufacturers test their products at full power and real grid load levels. The facility will also feature a petascale supercomputer that can support large scale modeling and simulation at one quadrillion operations per second.
As the first industry partner to use ESIF, Advanced Energy Industries is testing its new solar photovoltaic (PV) inverter technology with the facility’s utility-scale grid simulators and hardware-in-the-loop systems. Solar inverters are responsible for a number of critical functions within a solar PV system, including converting the direct current output into alternating current for the grid.
In the last four years, solar generation in the U.S. has more than doubled, while at the same time the costs of PV systems have dropped 80 percent. As more and more solar power contributes to the U.S. energy mix, lower cost advanced solar inverters will help usher in an increasingly diverse electricity portfolio, while providing consumers and businesses with reliable and affordable energy options.
Congress provided $135 million to construct and equip the user facility. The President’s FY 2014 budget request includes an additional $20 million for facility operations.