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Grid Monitoring, Control, and Optimization with SPEED-DER (Streamlined Platform to Enable Distributed Energy Resource Grid Integration)

Stage: Development

While the increasing number of renewable energy generators connected to the grid signals a future with sustainable energy, many renewable energy generators exist as distributed energy resources (DERs) scattered across the grid. Without appropriate planning or operation, an increasing number of DERs would cause grid-management challenges for grid operators. One approach to facilitate grid management with DERs is the installation of many sensors to ensure adequate power and voltage regulation. However, this approach is expensive and provides, by itself, a poor representation of grid-asset capabilities. Researchers at NREL have developed a streamlined software-simulation platform, SPEED-DER, for accurately assessing the impact of DERs on distribution grids, solving voltage and power quality issues caused by DER penetration, providing plug-and-play tests for independent control algorithms, and providing technoeconomic analysis of grid-control technologies.

NREL’s SPEED-DER offers high-fidelity distributed energy resource (DER) and load modeling, simulated implementations of controls and synergistic technologies provided by the platform, simulated plug-and-play control tests for independent control algorithms, calculated voltage- and power-quality metrics, and economic value assessment. To achieve these simulation outputs, SPEED-DER can conduct detailed quasi-static time-series (QSTS) simulations on distribution grids with DERs by implementing advanced controls in a plug-and-play manner. Based on the technical results from simulations, SPEED-DER also can be used to perform economic cost-benefit analyses to understand the potential economic gains and cash flows realized with advanced grid controls.

In particular, SPEED-DER has the following useful features:

  • Its automatic distribution-system model conversion can convert distribution feeders modeled in CYME and Synergi as well as GIS data into OpenDSS format, which can be used to conduct advanced analyses.
  • Its spatial and temporal load and photovoltaic (PV) modeling can generate realistic PV deployment scenarios, can add PV models that conform to the IEEE-1547 standard into distribution feeder models, and can use SCADA and AMI measurements to build time-series load and PV profiles for conducting QSTS studies.
  • Its control algorithm implementation can take standalone control algorithms, which can be compiled blackboxes, from third-party entities and can integrate them into the distribution grid model.
  • Its techno-economic assessment models the impact of DERs on distribution voltage and power quality, calculates the impact of legacy and advanced controls using both traditional voltage regulating devices and DER supports on improving distribution grid operation, and analyzes the economic benefits.
  • Finally, SPEED-DER can leverage parallelization approaches such as scalable QSTS simulations using multiple nodes and cores.

To learn more about licensing SPEED-DER, please contact Jean Schulte at:



Applications and Industries

  • Electric utilities with distribution grids—especially municipal and cooperative utilities.
  • Distribution-grid operators.
  • Public utility commissions or other regulatory bodies.
  • Grid engineering firms.


NREL’s SPEED-DER is a comprehensive, plug-and-play solution to model the impact of DERs on distribution grids:

  • It can automatically convert existing distribution-system models for rapid simulation configuration.
  • It considers both spatial and temporal loads and DER modeling for comprehensive simulations of distribution-grid components.
  • It allows the simulation of control-algorithm implementation to understand hardware and software elements required to facilitate DERs on distribution grids.
  • It provides technoeconomic assessments of simulated distribution-grid voltage and power quality to calculate cash flows.
  • SPEED-DER employs Python and the OpenDSS power-flow solver.