Distributed Energy Resources (DER) are autonomous generating, storage, and load control technologies that are typically located at customer premises and operated for the customer's benefit. They include microturbines, fuel cells, photovoltaic systems, and traditional internal combustion engines. CERTS is evaluating how these resources, when deployed in large numbers, affect and could be modified to enhance electricity grid reliability.
Large-scale market adoption of DER raises important issues about DER's impact on the grid's reliability. Specific areas that must be addressed include: control and dispatch strategies for DER; strategies to ensure the safety and protection of the grid; and the role of power electronic interfaces in connecting DER to the grid. Assessing grid reliability impacts requires a systems approach.
A central concept in this research area is the microgrid—an interconnected network of DER that can function either connected to or independent from the electricity grid. CERTS is investigating optimal microgrid design, including the power electronics necessary to connect microgrids effectively to the power grid; conducting field tests of microgrid operation; and assessing the system reliability services that microgrids might provide.