New US research centre to boost clean energy development

A new $135 million (£87.17m) test centre to boost utility-scale clean energy grid integration technologies is being developed in the US. The Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) (pictured) in Colorado […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A new $135 million (£87.17m) test centre to boost utility-scale clean energy grid integration technologies is being developed in the US.

The Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) (pictured) in Colorado will help both public and private sector researchers scale-up clean energy technologies – like solar modules, wind turbines, electric vehicles and interactive home appliances – and test how they interact with each other and the grid at utility-scale.

The 82,500 square foot facility will include more than 15 experimental laboratories and several outdoor test beds, including an interactive system that will let researchers and manufacturers test their products at full power and real grid load levels. It will also feature a “supercomputer” that can support large-scale modelling at one quadrillion operations per second.

The programme is aimed at overcoming generation, transmission, distribution and end-use challenges to support a cleaner, affordable and more secure US energy mix, including research into next-generation building technologies, microgrids, energy storage batteries and utility-scale renewable energy.

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said: “Our National Laboratories are a national treasure that help America’s entrepreneurs and innovators to accelerate the development of new technologies. 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.”

A Colorado-based energy firm has already signed on to start work at ESIF – developing lower cost and better performing solar power inverters.

The facility is located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and is a collaboration between NREL and the US Energy Department.