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EPRI, NREL, and U of Washington form UNIFI consortium to advance grid-forming inverters to support renewables

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the University of Washington have formed the industry-wide Universal Interoperability for Grid-Forming Inverters (UNIFI) Consortium to advance research on grid-forming inverters supporting variable renewable energy growth across the power system.

Funded through a $25-million DOE award, the public-private consortium aims to enable power-sector decarbonization through 2035.

Maintaining grid reliability amid increasing renewable energy penetration involves fundamental changes to power system operation and the resources leveraged to provide grid services. This consortium brings together leading experts to research how to enable inverter-based resources to help shape a reliable grid for today and tomorrow.

—Daniel Brooks, vice president of integrated grid and energy systems at EPRI

In addition to EPRI, NREL, and the University of Washington, the UNIFI consortium currently includes:

  • Three DOE national laboratories

  • 11 North American universities, including Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions (ANNH), Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI), and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI)

  • Six inverter manufacturers

  • Five simulation software vendors

  • Two North American system operators

  • Eight North American power system utilities

The plan for the UNIFI Consortium is to unify the integration and operation of synchronous machines and inverter-based resources in electric power grids.

—Ben Kroposki, director of NREL’s Power Systems Engineering Center and UNIFI Consortium Organizational Director

The diverse group will work together to conceptualize, model, test, and develop future inverter technology that will improve the integration of clean energy resources such as solar photovoltaics, stationary energy storage, and wind power into the electric power grid. The consortium will also develop specifications and standards for enabling interoperability between inverters from different manufacturers.

Expected outcomes include the creation of system-stabilizing inverter controllers, simulation techniques, and hardware testbeds that facilitate grid resilience and reliability. The consortium will work to create future educational curricula and support workforce development initiatives while broadly disseminating research results throughout the industry.


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