New DOE, NREL and EPRI-run competition to further integration of distributed energy resources

Published on February 09, 2023 by Chris Galford

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United States Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced a new competition this week to be run by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and EPRI focused on advancing the integration of distributed energy resources (DERs) into U.S. energy systems.

Known as the American-Made Net Load Forecasting Prize, this competition seeks organizations with potential solutions to improve forecasting of the net load as the United States moves to meet decarbonization goals. The competition was announced by Granholm as she attended the DISTRIBUTECH 2023 conference in San Diego, California. DISTRIBUTECH is an annual transmission and distribution event focused on technologies used to move electricity from power plants to homes and businesses.

“Grid security and reliability are critical pieces to solving our nation’s challenges around moving to clean energy,” Becca Jones-Albertus, director of the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office, said. “Increasing the accuracy of net load predictions will not only enable that reliability but also allow for cost-efficient planning and the dispatch of energy generation and storage.”

At the heart of the competition is the challenge of viewing the output of DERs – such as solar and wind – and the tricky position this makes for the reliability of the grid. Thus, the government wants more accurate and adaptable means of forecasting the net load they would bring, meaning the difference between the amount of demand predicted and amount of renewable energy forecast available.

Participants will utilize EPRI’s Solar Forecast Arbiter tool, which is meant to help users with evaluation in this area. This will offer them historical load data as they work to develop and analyze their own forecasting models.

“Efficiently and rapidly integrating and operating so many DERs presents many challenges and opportunities,” Daniel Brooks, EPRI’s vice president of Integrated Grid and Energy Systems, said. “From flexible and integrated control schemes that allow DERs to support grid reliability to providing needed cyber and physical security, the industry has much to tackle to fully leverage the decarbonization and resilience benefits of grid-edge resources. We’re pleased to work with DOE and NREL on such an important component to a successful clean energy transition.”

Any U.S.-based institutions, companies, and nonprofit organizations are eligible for the competition. Three winners will be announced, along with three runners-up, splitting $600,000 in cash prizes between them.