The United States has 37 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar capacity—enough to power over 4,070,000,000 LED lights—with an impressive additional 112 GW of capacity currently under development.
With so much large-scale solar power already in place, current trends in energy systems clearly point to renewable energy sources and battery energy storage systems being major players in the power grids of the future. But these new technologies bring additional complexities and challenges. Given the obstacles, how can we understand the behavior of modernized grids and the ways in which power system operators and policymakers can ensure their continued reliability on a large scale? NREL analysts, along with colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), have published a novel open-source computation analysis approach in an IEEE Electrification article that is helping unlock the answer.
"Existing commercial software tools used for modeling have worked well for power system analysis for decades. However, we are in a phase of rapid energy system changes that is placing new demands on modeling needs," said Clayton Barrows, NREL senior researcher and contributing author of the article. "In order to keep pace with these emerging technologies we need transparent software that is easy to modify. Updated and flexible software tools will allow the research community to address computational questions and understand the impacts of new technologies before they hit the market."