Over the last century, power has been delivered from large, centralized power sources to customers, requiring only a one-way power flow. Today, the grid is evolving to deliver power from alternative sources, including solar panels on rooftops or customer-owned battery storage. This requires a power grid that supports two-way power flow.
Our Distributed Asset Research Testing (DART Facility) is designed to assist the industry in developing and testing DERs and energy management systems. The facility serves as a testbed for performance and reliability testing of DERs, support standards development, and investigate other emerging, complex system integration issues. The DART Facility is connected to the electric distribution system at 12.47kV with a 208 V transformer to power the building.
The facility can operate in parallel to the grid or can operate in island, providing high levels of electrical reliability. The system can disconnect from the utility during large events (i.e., faults, voltage collapses), but has the capability to disconnect intentionally when the quality of power from the grid falls below certain standards.
Our facility is built to support the industry’s transition to technologies led by time-synchronized high-speed measurements. Phasor measurement units (PMUs) are used to measure both the magnitude and phase angle of the sine waves found in electricity, and are time-synchronized for accuracy using GPS satellites. Synchrophasors will affect the evolution of the power grid by improving system reliability, increasing the utilization of existing transmission assets, and improving the efficiency of wholesale market operations. Partnered with Texas Tech University, Sandia National Laboratories and the Southwest Power Pool, we have installed a network of PMUs to help provide real time information on wind resources, grid variability, and provide faster and improved analysis following grid disturbances.
For years, inverters have been used by the solar industry to convert DC electricity generated by solar installations into AC power, but they lack bi-directional capability needed to both take power from the grid and feed power back into it. Currently, if the grid has a disturbance, renewable energy sources must shut down. However, with advanced inverters, renewables gain the ability to disconnect from the grid and continue operating independently. When the grid is back to normal, advanced inverters allow renewables to quickly and safely reconnect to the grid. Our facility is built for third party certification bodies to test your advanced inverter in a real world environment.