• Aerial Photo of NREL Controllable Grid Interface Equipment Enclosure
  • Aerial Photo of NREL Controllable Grid Interface and Dynamometer Test Facilities
  • Inside 5 MW Dynamometer Test Facility
  • Controllable Grid Interface in Equipment Enclosure
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory

    Jefferson County, Colorado

    The innovative research performed at NREL‘s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) is focused on testing emerging wind technologies and accelerating their availability to the marketplace. To understand how individual wind turbines experience grid disturbances, a series of tests and accurate transient simulation studies must be performed. However, testing wind turbines in the field can be an expensive and time-consuming process. NREL’s new Controllable Grid Interface (CGI) test system at the NWTC site was designed to significantly reduce the time and cost required to conduct these tests by enabling controlled testing of wind turbines in a laboratory setting. The 9 MVA CGI is a combination of hardware and real-time control software that was designed to operate with existing 2.5 MW and 5 MW dynamometer facilities (both designed, in part, by The RMH Group) to simulate grid disturbances on wind turbine terminals and to estimate impacts of turbine response on the grid. This ground-breaking CGI test system project has produced the first test facility in the U.S. with fault-simulation capabilities and the only system in the world fully integrated with two dynamometers designed to work with four types of wind turbines including the largest wind turbine drivetrains used in land-based markets. The RMH Group designed the electrical and communications infrastructure to connect the dynamometers used for testing wind turbine drivetrain components with the grid and fault simulation areas. The infrastructure was designed to have ride-through capability and to safely withstand abnormal grid conditions such as faults. RMH also flexibly configured the CGI system to allow for connection of multiple test objects including utility-scale wind turbines, other renewable energy generation systems such as photovoltaic arrays, and grid-scale energy storage units.
    Photo credits:  Mark McDade and Jim Green, NREL
 

NREL Controllable Grid Interface

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Jefferson County, Colorado

The innovative research performed at NREL‘s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) is focused on testing emerging wind technologies and accelerating their availability to the marketplace. To understand how individual wind turbines experience grid disturbances, a series of tests and accurate transient simulation studies must be performed. However, testing wind turbines in the field can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

NREL’s new Controllable Grid Interface (CGI) test system at the NWTC site was designed to significantly reduce the time and cost required to conduct these tests by enabling controlled testing of wind turbines in a laboratory setting. The 9 MVA CGI is a combination of hardware and real-time control software that was designed to operate with existing 2.5 MW and 5 MW dynamometer facilities (both designed, in part, by The RMH Group) to simulate grid disturbances on wind turbine terminals and to estimate impacts of turbine response on the grid. This ground-breaking CGI test system project has produced the first test facility in the U.S. with fault-simulation capabilities and the only system in the world fully integrated with two dynamometers designed to work with four types of wind turbines including the largest wind turbine drivetrains used in land-based markets.

The RMH Group designed the electrical and communications infrastructure to connect the dynamometers used for testing wind turbine drivetrain components with the grid and fault simulation areas. The infrastructure was designed to have ride-through capability and to safely withstand abnormal grid conditions such as faults. RMH also flexibly configured the CGI system to allow for connection of multiple test objects including utility-scale wind turbines, other renewable energy generation systems such as photovoltaic arrays, and grid-scale energy storage units.

Photo credits:  Mark McDade and Jim Green, NREL

Awards

Engineering News-Record/ENR Mountain States, Best 2013 Projects, Best Energy/Industrial Project