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Running your home appliances, computer, or entertainment devices on solar power is easier than you might imagine.
Solar inverter to get test at NREL's new facility
By Mark Jaffe The Denver Post
POSTED: 09/11/2013 05:35:36 PM MDT2 COMMENTS| UPDATED: 3 MONTHS AGO
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, right, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Patrick Moriarty look
over a virtual environment simulating a wind tunnel at the laboratory in Golden. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
Fort Collins-based Advanced Energy is ready to plug its 1-megawatt solar-energy inverter into a new $135 million facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and see what happens.
The Energy Systems Integration Facility, opened at Golden-based NREL on Wednesday, can simulate the
electric grid from power plant to light bulb.
"The inverter is a big piece of equipment, and we don't have the capital to do a full-scale simulation," said
Mike Dooley, Advanced Energy's vice president for marketing. "This is a perfect private-public partnership."
The facility was dedicated Wednesday by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
There has been rapid adoption of new technologies, including LED lights, solar panels and electric vehicles, Moniz told The Denver Post.
"A lot of these things are coming together, but the question is: How do you integrate them?" Ernest Moniz, Energy secretary (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
"A lot of these things are coming together, but the question is: How do you integrate them?" Moniz said.
"That's where the ESIF comes in."
The 185,000-square-foot facility is designed to analyze the impact of renewable and distributed energy
sources and electric vehicles on the grid.
The indoor and outdoor test areas are also linked to Peregrine, a new supercomputer, which is housed in
"If we look forward 10 to 20 years, we are going to see more variable renewable energy, more distributed generation," Moniz said. "We need to design a new system."
For Advanced Energy, plugging the inverter in here will help it design a more efficient product, Dooley said.
An inverter transforms the variable direct current from solar panels into an alternating current that can be
put on the grid.
The inverter Advanced is testing is for utility-scale and commercial arrays — or about 200 times the size of
a home-system inverter.
"It is a large piece of equipment to test," Dooley said. "But the information we get back can help us design
the highest-reliability, lowest-cost product."
NREL officials also announced Wednesday that Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America
will use the facility to test the integration of plug-in electric vehicles.
Scientists and engineers at ESIF and NREL's Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility will use 20 Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to explore ways to accommodate a growing number of electric vehicles.
"These are the technical and analytical challenges," Moniz said.