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The Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) funding program developed distribution planning and operation solutions to enable dynamic, automated, and cost-effective management of distributed and variable generation sources, like solar photovoltaics (PV). These software and hardware solutions are highly scalable, data-driven, and capable of real-time system operation and planning. Solutions developed under ENERGISE enable grid operators to gather up-to-the-minute measurement and forecast data from distributed energy sources and optimize system performance using sensor, communications, and data analytics technologies.

The project selections were announced on January 31, 2017. Read the progress alert.


ENERGISE solutions focus on improving four distinct layers within a distribution system:

  • Device and Local Control Layer – Projects developed and integrated low-cost, plug-and-play smart sensor and local control devices for day-to-day distribution system operation. Multiple functionalities are integrated in a single device to reduce system cost and complexity.
  • Telecommunications and Data Layer – Projects developed efficient and cost-effective methods to collect, transport, process, and store the measurement data necessary for real-time system operation and planning analysis. This resulted in fully automated operations with an integrated data view of the entire system, without operator intervention.
  • Traditional System Layer – Projects created interfaces that link existing planning and operation tools with both the real-time measurement and control from the telecommunications and data layer, and the advanced power system analysis from the enhanced system layer. Measurement data and control functions from PV inverters and energy storage will be fully integrated into grid planning and operation.
  • Enhanced System Layer – Projects developed advanced methods to model, simulate, and predict distribution power system behaviors using large data sets to manage high-penetration solar generation. These methods include real-time distribution power flow, optimal distribution power flow, distribution system state estimation, stochastic analysis, predictive analysis, and machine-learning techniques.


Distributed variable generation sources like PV are a key driver for the transformation of the electric power grid from today’s centralized, static, and rigid system toward a more distributed, dynamic, and flexible system. ENERGISE focused on improving distribution system planning and operations by developing solutions compatible with existing grid infrastructure to enable the addition of PV at 50 percent of the peak distribution load. ENERGISE projects also developed transformative, highly scalable technologies compatible with advanced grid infrastructure to enable PV at 100 percent of the peak distribution load by 2030.


National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Project Title: Enhanced Control, Optimization, and Integration of Distributed Energy Applications
Location: Golden, CO
Award Amount: $2.4 million
Awardee Cost Share: $5 million
Project Description: This project developed and validated an innovative data-enhanced hierarchical control architecture that enables the efficient, reliable, resilient, and secure operation of future distribution systems with a high penetration of distributed energy resources like solar energy. The architecture enables a hybrid control approach where a centralized control layer is complemented by distributed control algorithms for solar inverters and autonomous control of grid edge devices. It is fully interoperable and includes all the cybersecurity aspects necessary for reliable and secure system operation. The hybrid approach can seamlessly integrate multiple voltage-regulation technologies, both at central and grid-edge levels, which enables reliable and efficient system operation in the face of unpredictable conditions.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Project Title: Grid Optimization with Solar
Location: Golden, CO
Award Amount: $1.6 million
Awardee Cost Share: $400,000
Project Description: This project developed a novel control scheme that provides system-wide monitoring and control using a small fraction of the active devices on the grid. This technology is intended to be scalable to more than 1 million nodes through large-scale integrated transmission-distribution systems, simulated using NREL’s Integrated Grid Modeling System with actual system data. The key innovation is the proactive management of very large distributed energy resource populations using only a few measurement points for input through predictive state estimation and a few carefully selected control nodes identified and dispatched through online multi-objective optimization. The platform gives utilities the capability to seamlessly dispatch legacy devices and distributed energy resources to achieve system-wide performance and reliability targets.

Northeastern University

Project Title: Robust Distributed State Estimator for Interconnected Transmission and Distribution Networks
Location: Boston, MA
Award Amount: $650,000
Awardee Cost Share: $150,000
Project Description: This project team designed, implemented, and validated a comprehensive state estimation algorithm for combined monitoring of transmission and distribution systems. This technology allows the computational complexity and solution time to be bounded regardless of the system size and number of measurements. By using a mixed set of measurements under different network configurations, utilities can handle any number of available PV units connected to the distribution system. The key innovation is the multi-area formulation of large-scale transmission state estimation, and the multi-feeder distribution state estimation solutions, as well as the coordinated and seamless validation of the transmission and distribution estimators separately. The software can estimate imbalances in the transmission system initiated by the imbalances from the distribution side, as well. It also incorporates detailed models of distributed PV modules and any associated measurements from smart inverters.

Opus One Solutions

Project Title: Security Constrained Economic Optimization of PV and Other Distributed Assets
Location: San Francisco, CA
Award Amount: $3.2 million
Awardee Cost Share: $3.3 million
Project Description: This project took a holistic approach to address critical challenges that prevent high levels of distributed solar penetration in power system networks. The team coordinated interaction of solar generation units, electric cars, energy storage devices, and demand-side management programs to provide multiple grid services in real time. This project aimed to deploy a general-purpose software platform to create an optimal dispatch of distributed resources while ensuring secure and normal operations of electric power distribution networks. The project will ultimately enable large-scale deployment of the solution to other cooperatives and municipal- and investor-owned utilities. 

PPL Electric Utilities

Project Title: Keystone Solar Future Project
Location: Allentown, PA
Award Amount: $3 million
Awardee Cost Share: $6 million
Project Description: This project leveraged several grid technologies to develop a distributed system platform that bridges the gap between existing and future technologies by monitoring, controlling, and optimizing a high penetration of solar generation. PPL also developed a multi-layer device and communications architecture that was piloted on at least 10 distribution circuits. The interconnection portal provides an unprecedented one-day interconnection approval and response to PV customers. Updated network communications and robust data management solutions allow back-office systems to control the various operational characteristics of end-point field devices.

Sandia National Laboratories

Project Title: Voltage Regulation and Protection Assurance using DER Advanced Grid Functions
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Award Amount: $2.5 million
Awardee Cost Share: $4 million
Project Description: This project team created an open-source advanced distribution management system that encompasses distribution circuits and distributed energy resource management, including state estimation, voltage regulation, protection coordination, economic optimization, interoperability, and cybersecurity. This system provides real-time visibility into distribution circuits and optimizes the active and reactive settings to meet voltage regulation, protection, and economic objectives amid forecast uncertainty. The open-source software was incorporated into a commercial vendor’s platform to demonstrate the technology with extensive testing and field demonstrations at 20 feeders within two utilities. By improving feeder visibility incorporating solar forecasting, this project optimizes active and reactive distributed energy resource settings through a community of inverters to help utilities balance supply and demand.

Southern California Edison

Project Title: Electric Access System Enhancement
Location: Rosemead, CA
Award Amount: $4 million
Awardee Cost Share: $6 million
Project Description: This project automates communication with PV customers, further streamlining the interconnection process for the utility, the resource provider, the customer, and the local jurisdiction. The project team determined the data to exchange, the grid and device characteristics, and the operating constraints and protocols to enable effective controls and operations. This structured and automated exchange of characteristics and parameters accelerates the interconnection process, establishes common information requirements, and enables effective connection of distributed energy resources to the grid. This project also established standards-based infrastructure and communication protocols that are scalable and interoperable, which is critical for new installations and can also help extract additional value from existing PV installations.

University of California Berkeley

Project Title: Phasor-Based Control Scalable Solar Photovoltaic Integration
Location: Berkeley, CA
Award Amount: $1.5 million
Awardee Cost Share: $600,000
Project Description: This project team designed, implemented, and validated an innovative framework to enable penetration levels of PV generation greater than 100% on the distribution grid. By explicitly controlling voltage phasors at specific network nodes, this framework simultaneously addresses multiple operational challenges, including high resource variability, reverse power flow, grid visibility, and coordination between transmission and distribution systems. The framework solves the problem of complex interdependencies in large networks by creating options for partitioning the grid both physically and computationally. The project integrated several cutting-edge threads of research and development, including analytics relating phasor profiles to dynamic and unbalanced power flows, decentralized adaptive control algorithms, and simulation capabilities, to characterize large networks with diverse, variable, and distributed energy resources. The research team produced a proof of concept of the phasor-based control paradigm beginning with an individual distribution feeder, later increasing the complexity and scale of the framework by increasing the number of virtually connected nodes, tying together the local and supervisory controllers, and implementing the local controller on hardware.

University of California Riverside

Project Title: Integrated Distributed Energy Management System
Location: Riverside, CA
Award Amount: $2.6 million
Awardee Cost Share: $4 million
Project Description: This project team designed and validated a novel distributed energy resource management system at scale. The main component is a numerical analysis platform that enables an optimal, active network management solution for real-time control. The solution provides secure and optimal dispatch of distributed energy resources for power system networks (both transmission and distribution) on feeders with over 50% PV penetration. This project automated integration and control of distributed energy resource clusters with advanced sensor data, producing a novel adaptive control algorithm to improve distribution system operations and contribute to transmission-level services. 

University of Central Florida

Project Title: Scalable, Secure Cooperative Algorithms and Framework for Extremely High Penetration Solar Integration
Location: Orlando, FL
Award Amount: $1.3 million
Awardee Cost Share: $500,000
Project Description: This project team researched, designed and implemented highly scalable technologies for utilities’ electric distribution systems so they can operate reliably and securely with extremely high penetration of distributed energy resources like PV. This includes a modular plug-and-play grid platform enabling real-time operation and control of a large-scale distribution network, as well as advanced distribution operation and control functions to manage extremely high PV penetration. The team scaled up the platform through advanced models and parallel computing to accommodate a million-node test system. The platform includes distributed stochastic optimal power flow; dynamic, real-time, distributed cooperative controls of distributed energy resources; a distributed system state estimation algorithm based on prediction-correction methods for time-varying convex optimization; and distribution system restoration strategy based on multi-agent mixed-integer optimization.

University of Southern California

Project Title: Data Driven Modeling and Analytics for Enhanced Systems Layer Implementation
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Award Amount: $650,000
Awardee Cost Share: $175,000
Project Description: This project uses data to develop novel representations of distributed energy resource owners’ interactions via data-driven models along with stochastic reserve optimizations that enable net-load balancing in near real-time. The project develops a transformational distributed grid control architecture as part of an enhanced system layer at the distribution network level. It optimizes the coordinated usage of a large number of variable and distributed resources, decentralized energy storage, and load to ensure real-time, system-wide, net-load management and automated adaptation to real-time variability in a cost-effective, secure, and reliable manner.

University of Vermont

Project Title: Robust and Resilient Coordination of Feeders with Uncertain Distributed Energy Resources: From Real-Time Control to Long-Term Planning
Location: Burlington, VT
Award Amount: $1.4 million
Awardee Cost Share: $500,000
Project Description: This project developed a predictive optimization and coordination framework to manage flexible resources and legacy control devices available in a low-voltage distribution system, to ease the fluctuations and variability in PV generation. The resources were organized locally, regionally, and system-wide. The team designed a scalable approach that can organize millions of resources relying strictly on market signals. In this approach, a system-wide energy market mechanism called the grid market layer coordinates more than 1 million flexible resources. The market layer also determines the optimal market interaction by the distribution system operator depending on net-load forecasts. A feeder’s expected market contribution serves as the reference signal for aggregated resources in the operational layer.

Learn more about SETO's systems integration research and see a list of all current and former funding programs.