Electric Power Research Institute advances microgrid feasibility through collaborative demonstration projects and standards implementation

April 17, 2019 9:34 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Author: Matthew A. Pellow, PhD, Pellow Energy Insights

Microgrids are seeing increased demonstration and deployment in Australia, both to provide greater resiliency to critical facilities in grid-connected environments, and as a potentially cost-effective approach to serving utility customers in remote communities.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) – based in the U.S. with international participation in 35 countries – is actively pursuing a range of research initiatives to enable wider application of microgrids as a solution for reliable, safe, and cost-effective electricity in a range of contexts. EPRI is an independent, nonprofit, collaborative technical research institute focused on safe, reliable, and affordable electricity delivery. Recent and ongoing EPRI microgrid research initiatives include:

New foundational standards for device interconnection to facilitate interoperability between microgrids and the electric grid. For microgrids interconnected with distribution grid, a key need is to define the communications and response capabilities of smart inverters. Through technical review and working group facilitation, EPRI facilitated the development of the recently released revision of the IEEE 1547 standard, which lays out technical specifications for interconnection and interoperability between distributed energy resources (DER) and the electric grid.[1] The revised standard lays out a series specific requirements for smart inverters, developed through extensive consultation with transmission and distribution system operators, to provide guidelines for regulators and commercial product vendors. These include capabilities such as grid status monitoring; autonomous response to support grid stability; voltage ride-through; and re-connecting distributed energy resources to the grid following an islanding event.

The implementation of the newly published smart inverter requirements by manufacturers, utility companies, and other stakeholders may offer helpful context for any future revisions of relevant Australian standards, such as the AS4777.2 inverter requirements standard. EPRI continues to facilitate implementation of smart inverter requirements, such as by assessing which interoperability issues can be evaluated in IEEE 1547-2018 certification testing, and which may need to be addressed through other means.

Collaborative research to support implementation of key microgrid technologies.  EPRI leads collaborative research projects and utility industry working groups to investigate specific research questions on a range of microgrid-related topics, including:

Implementing various microgrid configurations to demonstrate feasibility and highlight practical implementation considerations

EPRI’s technical expertise may be a useful resource for best practices review as Australian network companies and other stakeholders continue to develop leading-edge microgrid implementations. And for leading-edge microgrid innovations and demonstrations developed in Australia, EPRI’s collaborative model, utility industry relationships, and international presence offer a platform to share Australian innovation worldwide.

All cited references are publicly available online.

Matthew Pellow is an independent consultant based in Sydney, and a former staff member in EPRI’s energy storage program. He can be reached at

[1] Sweet, C. “A New Template for the Integrated Grid: How a Revised National Standard for Distributed Energy Resources Could Change the Power System.” EPRI Journal. April 5, 2019.

[2] Navigating DER Interconnection Standards and Practices: Supplemental Project Notification. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA: 2017. 3002012048.

[3] Evaluation of Inverter On-Board Detection Methods to Prevent Unintended Islanding: Supplemental Project Notification. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA:2018. 3002012496.

[4] Advancing Smart Inverter Integration in Utah: Research Highlights. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA:2019. 3002015319.

[5] Distributed Energy Resources Management Systems (DERMS) Working Group.  EPRI, Palo Alto, CA:2018. 3002014468.

[6] A Smart and Flexible Microgrid with Dynamic Boundary and Intelligent Open-Source Controller. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA:2018. 3002014310.

[7] Grid Integration of Zero Net Energy Communities: Executive Summary. EPRI, Palo Alto, CA:2016. 3002009242.

[8] “DoD-EPRI Naval Base Ventura County Microgrid Project (Port Hueneme, CA).” 2016.