Enabling Extreme Real-time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE)

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The Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) funding program develops distribution planning and operation solutions to enable dynamic, automated, and cost-effective management of distributed and variable generation sources, like solar, onto the grid. These software and hardware solutions are highly scalable, data-driven, and capable of real-time system operation and planning. Solutions developed under ENERGISE enable grid operators to gather up-to-the-minute measurement and forecast data from distributed energy sources and optimize system performance using sensor, communications, and data analytics technologies.

The project selections were announced on January 31, 2017. Read the progress alert.


ENERGISE solutions focus on improving four distinct layers within a distribution system:

  • Device and Local Control Layer – Projects will develop and integrate low-cost, plug-and-play smart sensor and local control devices for day-to-day distribution system operation that integrate multiple functionalities into a single device in order to reduce system cost and integration complexity.
  • Telecommunications and Data Layer – Projects will develop efficient and cost effective methods to collect, transport, process, and store the measurement data necessary for real-time system operation and planning analysis, which will result in fully automated operations with an integrated data view of the entire system and without operator intervention.
  • Traditional System Layer – Projects will create interfaces that link the existing planning and operation tools with real-time measurement data and control from the Telecom & Data Layer, and with the advanced power system analysis from the Enhanced System Layer. Measurement data and control functions from PV inverters and energy storage will be fully integrated into grid planning and operation.
  • Enhanced System Layer – Projects will develop advanced methods to model, simulate, and predict distribution power system behaviors using large data sets in order to manage high penetration solar generation. These methods include real-time distribution power flow, optimal distribution power flow, distribution system state estimation, stochastic analysis, predictive analysis, and machine learning techniques.


Distributed variable generation sources like solar energy are a key driver for the transformation of the electric power grid from today’s centralized, static, and rigid system towards a more distributed, dynamic, and flexible system. ENERGISE focuses on improving distribution system planning and operations by developing distribution system planning and grid operation solutions compatible with existing grid infrastructure to enable the addition of solar at 50% of the peak distribution load by 2020. Looking further into the future, ENERGISE is also developing transformative and highly scalable technologies compatible with advanced grid infrastructure to enable solar at 100% of the peak distribution load by 2030.


Advanced Microgrid Solutions

Location: San Francisco, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $3,221,649
Awardee Cost Share: $4,774,423
Project Description: This project takes a holistic approach to address critical challenges that prevent high levels of distributed solar penetration in power system networks. The team is coordinating interaction of solar generation units, energy storage devices, and demand-side management programs to provide multiple grid services in real-time. This project aims to deploy a general-purpose software platform that will create an optimal dispatch of distributed resources while ensuring secure and normal operation of the electric grid. 

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Location: Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $2,500,000
Awardee Cost Share: $3,023,505
Project Description: This project develops, validates, and tests a unique and innovative data-enhanced hierarchical control (DEHC) architecture that enables the efficient, reliable, resilient, and secure operation of future distribution systems with a high penetration of distributed energy resources like solar energy. The DEHC architecture enables a hybrid control approach where a centralized control layer will be complemented by distributed control algorithms for solar inverters and autonomous control of grid edge devices. The architecture aims to be fully interoperable and include all the cybersecurity aspects that are necessary for reliable and secure system operation.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Location: Golden, CO
SunShot Award Amount: $1,591,603
Awardee Cost Share: $408,397
Project Description: This project develops a novel control scheme that provides system-wide monitoring and control using a small fraction of the active devices on the grid. This technology aims to be scalable to more than one million nodes through large-scale integrated transmission-distribution systems, which will be simulated using NREL’s Integrated Grid Modeling System with actual system data. The platform gives utilities the capability to seamlessly dispatch legacy devices and distributed energy resources to achieve system-wide performance and reliability targets.

Northeastern University

Location: Boston, MA
SunShot Award Amount: $633,792
Awardee Cost Share: $158,454
Project Description: This project develops, implements, tests, and validates a comprehensive state estimation algorithm for combined monitoring of transmission and distribution systems. Using this technology will allow the computational complexity and solution time to be bounded regardless of the system size and number of measurements. By using a mixed set of measurements under different network configurations, utilities will be able to handle any number of available solar photovoltaic (PV) units connected to the distribution system.

PPL Electric Utilities

Location: Allentown, PA
SunShot Award Amount: $3,146,232
Awardee Cost Share: $6,505,446
Project Description: This project leverages several different grid technologies to develop a distributed system platform that bridges the gap between existing and future technologies by monitoring, controlling, and optimizing a high penetration of solar generation. PPL is also developing a multi-layer device and communications architecture and a 500-customer pilot on at least 10 distribution circuits. The project team plans to perform an extensive one-year demonstration to validate research findings before deploying it system-wide.

Quanta Technology, LLC

Location: Raleigh, NC
SunShot Award Amount: $1,500,000
Awardee Cost Share: $500,000
Project Description: This project develops a new power grid operation architecture that combines distributed control with centralized dispatch to provide power system frequency and voltage support. This includes the design and development of a new generation of PV inverters that operates and behaves like a synchronous generator. The solution integrates any available data with a new wide-area PV monitoring and control platform to increase the visibility and controllability of distributed solar generation resources. It provides an accurate estimation of the current power system status for making control decisions in real-time operations, integrating transmission and distribution control strategies.

Sandia National Laboratories

Location: Albuquerque, NM
SunShot Award Amount: $2,500,000
Awardee Cost Share: $500,667
Project Description: This project creates an open-source advanced distribution management system (ADMS) that encompasses distribution circuits and distributed energy resource (DER) management, including state estimation, voltage regulation, protection coordination, economic optimization, interoperability, and cybersecurity. The ADMS will provide real-time visibility into distribution circuits and optimize the active and reactive settings to meet voltage regulation, protection, and economic objectives in the presence of forecast uncertainty. The open-source software will be incorporated into a commercial vendor’s platform to demonstrate the technology with extensive testing and field demonstrations at 20 feeders located within two utilities.

Southern California Edison

Location: Rosemead, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $3,988,000
Awardee Cost Share: $6,410,422
Project Description: This project leverages existing information systems and processes to increase efficient communication exchange between the utility and customer/resource provider during the interconnection process by optimizing control of solar energy production. Through a complete lifecycle approach, the project team will determine the necessary data to be exchanged, the grid and device characteristics, and the operating constraints and protocols to enable effective controls and operations. This structured and automated exchange of characteristics and parameters accelerates the interconnection process, establishes common information requirements, and enables effective operational connection of distributed energy resources to the grid.

University of California Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $1,458,356
Awardee Cost Share: $573,114
Project Description: This project designs, implements, and validates an innovative framework to enable penetration levels of solar photovoltaic generation greater than 100 percent on the distribution grid. By explicitly controlling the voltage magnitude and phase angle at specific network nodes, this framework simultaneously addresses multiple operational challenges, including high resource variability, reverse power flow, grid visibility, and coordination between transmission and distribution systems. The framework solves the problem of complex interdependencies in large networks by creating options for partitioning the grid both physically and computationally.

University of California Riverside

Location: Riverside, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $2,420,013
Awardee Cost Share: $3,799,174
Project Description: This project is working to design, deploy, and validate at scale a novel distributed energy resource management system. Its main component will be a sophisticated numerical analysis platform that will enable a network management solution for real-time control. The solution provides secure and optimal dispatch of distributed energy resources for power system networks (both transmission and distribution) on feeders with over 50 percent photovoltaic penetration. 

University of Central Florida

Location: Orlando, FL
SunShot Award Amount: $1,275,000
Awardee Cost Share: $513,424
Project Description: This project focuses on the research and design of highly scalable technologies for utilities’ electric distribution systems to operate reliably and securely with extremely high penetration of distributed energy resources like solar. This includes a modular, plug-and-play, and scalable sustainable grid platform that allows for real-time operation and control of a large-scale distribution network, as well as advanced distribution operation and control functions to manage extremely high penetration of solar.

University of Southern California

Location: Los Angeles, CA
SunShot Award Amount: $1,886,975
Awardee Cost Share: $537,027
Project Description: This project uses data to develop novel representations of distributed energy resource owners’ interactions via data-driven models along with stochastic reserve optimizations that enable net-load balancing in near real-time. The project develops a transformational distributed grid control architecture as part of an enhanced system layer at the distribution network level. It optimizes the coordinated usage of a large number of variable and distributed resources, decentralized energy storage, and load to ensure real-time, system-wide, net-load management and automated adaptation to real-time variability in a cost-effective, secure, and reliable manner.

University of Vermont

Location: Burlington, VT
SunShot Award Amount: $1,424,285
Awardee Cost Share: $506,220
Project Description: This project develops a predictive optimization and coordination framework to manage flexible grid resources and legacy control devices available in a low-voltage distribution system to ease the fluctuations and variability of solar generation. Resources will be organized locally, regionally, and system-wide.

Learn more about SunShot's other systems integration funding programs.