Earlier this week, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo. where he launched a trio of new efforts to increase the amount of solar, wind and other clean energy in the U.S. He launched on Sept. 11 the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF)—a new research facility focused on clean energy grid integration. Moniz also introduced a new research collaboration with Toyota and the Army and Peregrine, a new supercomputer at NREL that’s dedicated to investigating how to integrate all this new, clean energy.
“I’m not here to debate what’s not debatable,” Moniz said in introducing the new efforts. “What’s not debatable is the fact that any prudent person would recognize that we need to start really getting more serious and accelerate our addressing our climate change risks.” He added that the President’s climate change strategy is heavy on mitigating the impacts of climate change focused on limiting carbon dioxide emissions in the energy sector, for instance.
“We are facing and will be facing the effects of climate change,” Moniz said—days before flooding wreaked havoc throughout Colorado due to late season rains. The U.S. must also adapt to climate change, he said. “Both the mitigation and the adaptation agenda are very, very much connected to the ESIF agenda that will be pursued here at NREL,” Moniz said.
The new ESIF center is designed to help solar power, wind energy and energy efficiency manufacturers to work with utilities and public and private sector researchers to overcome challenges of integrating clean energy and energy efficiency technologies into today's energy infrastructure. It will work on, “The issue of looking at the energy systems while we continue on the technology. This is kind of the step we need. A much elevated focus on energy systems. ESIF is one important part of that program,” Moniz explained.
Moniz called for strong partnerships between national laboratories, private industry, academia and entrepreneurs, saying it will help reduce the effects of climate change, increase the production of clean energy and accelerate the development of new technologies.
Moniz initiated the first boot-up of the new Peregrine supercomputer alongside NREL Director Dan Arvizu. The new computer was designed through a collaboration with NREL, HP and Intel to focus on ESIF research. It’s a warm-water, liquid-cooled supercomputer and was designed to be the world’s most energy-efficient high performance computing data center. The computer can operate at petascale computing capability, performing 1.2 quadrillion calculations per second at peak performance. The DOE said it is the largest computing capability dedicated solely to renewable energy and energy efficiency research. “To have a capability of that scale dedicated specifically to these issues around energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and energy integration is really a step forward for the department,” Moniz asserted.
The Army, NREL and Toyota also launched a collaborative research effort to integrate plug-in electric vehicles to the power grid. NREL researchers in ESIF and its Vehicle Testing and Integration Facility will use 20 Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to develop and explore ways to prepare grid operators and energy infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of electric vehicles in the U.S. The Army, NREL and Wyle Labs are also developing a the Consolidated Utility Base Energy (CUBE) System for forward operating bases. The CUBE is a solar, battery and generator hybrid power system that provides electricity to forward operating bases.