Advanced Grid-Friendly Controls Demonstration Project for Utility-Scale PV Power Plants

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


A typical photovoltaic (PV) power plant consists of multiple power electronic inverters and can contribute to grid stability and reliability through sophisticated 'grid-friendly' controls. The availability and dissemination of actual test data showing the viability of advanced utility-scale PV controls among all industry stakeholders can leverage PV's value from being simply an energy resource to providing additional ancillary services that range from variability smoothing and frequency regulation to power quality. Strategically partnering with a selected utility and/or PV power plant operator is a key condition for a successful demonstration project. The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Solar Energy Technologies Office selected the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to be a principal investigator in a two-year project with goals to (1) identify a potential partner(s), (2) develop a detailed scope of work and test plan for a field project to demonstrate the gird-friendly capabilities of utility-scale PV power plants, (3) facilitate conducting actual demonstration tests, and (4) disseminate test results among industry stakeholders via a joint NREL/DOE publication and participation in relevant technical conferences. The project implementation took place in FY 2014 and FY 2015. In FY14, NREL established collaborations with AES and First Solar Electric, LLC, to conduct demonstration testing on their utility-scale PV power plants in Puerto Rico and Texas, respectively, and developed test plans for each partner. Both Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas expressed interest in this project because of the importance of such advanced controls for the reliable operation of their power systems under high penetration levels of variable renewable generation. During FY15, testing was completed on both plants, and a large amount of test data was produced and analyzed that demonstrates the ability of PV power plants to provide various types of new grid-friendly controls.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages102
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5D00-65368


  • AES
  • First Solar Electric, LLC
  • grid-friendly controls
  • photovoltaic
  • PV
  • reliability
  • stability
  • utility-scale PV


Dive into the research topics of 'Advanced Grid-Friendly Controls Demonstration Project for Utility-Scale PV Power Plants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this