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The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announces five new partnerships that will award up to US$ 6.5 million in federal funds to technical teams throughout the country. The cost-shared projects with industry, universities, and other stakeholders will address the challenge of enabling the nation's electric grid to handle increasing amounts of renewable energy.

NREL is managing the Integrated Network Testbed for Energy Grid Research and Technology Experimentation (INTEGRATE) and all of the teams will test their technologies in NREL's megawatt-scale Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF). Sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the objective of the INTEGRATE project is to provide grid services in a holistic manner using an open-source, interoperable platform that would allow renewable energy systems and other clean energy technologies to be connected to a "smart" power grid in a "plug and play" manner. Smart power grids include communication technologies to make the grid easier to monitor and control.

OMNETRIC Group will develop a distributed control hierarchy, based on an open field message bus architecture that gets away from the traditional centralized control concept, allowing decisions to be made at the edge of the grid with more timely response to changing conditions.

Smarter Grid Solutions will deploy and demonstrate an integrated, flexible plug-and-play grid management solution, using Active Network Management (ANM) to enhance the capacity of the grid to host renewable energy resources.

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will advance intelligent control of connected devices by demonstrating an end-to-end framework of communication and control technologies, integrating operation of different domains within distribution systems (including distribution management systems, demand response services, and residential appliance scheduling) through open source software tools.
Under a separate partnership, EPRI will examine exactly how and how many grid-connected electronic devices-that is, devices that can communicate with and respond to the grid-can help increase the grid's ability to accept power from renewable energy systems. The EPRI team will evaluate thermostats, pool pumps, electric vehicle chargers, solar photovoltaic (PV) inverters, and community battery energy storage devices as part of the project.

The University of Delaware will test how electric vehicles can provide energy storage support to the power grid.

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