Research Roadmap on Grid-Forming Inverters

Yashen Lin, Joseph Eto, Brian Johnson, Jack Flicker, Robert Lasseter, Hugo Villegas Pico, Gab-Su Seo, Brian Pierre, Abraham Ellis

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This research roadmap is intended to fill the knowledge gap by providing a system view of grid-forming inverter-based resource controls and their impact on grid stability, which we believe is central to meeting some of the challenges to operating the future North American electric power system. This includes the roles and requirements of grid-forming inverter-based resources—including solar photovoltaics, wind generators, and energy storage. For this roadmap, we focus on a specific family of grid-forming inverter control approaches that do not rely on an external voltage source (i.e., no phase-locked loop) and that can share load without explicit communications. Although the roadmap is focused narrowly on system challenges for grid-forming controls and power system stability, including interactions with protection, we hope it serves as a foundational element for future system-of-systems roadmapping needed in a broader grid modernization effort with increasing deployments of inverter-based resources. The roadmap first introduces formal definitions for the grid stability topics and then describes the differences between grid-forming and traditional grid-following control approaches for inverter-based resources. The core of the roadmap consists of a review of current research and an outline of research needs related to five grid-forming inverter topics: frequency control, voltage control, system protection, fault ride-through and voltage recovery, and modeling and simulation. The review both delineates contemporary advances and highlights open research questions that must be addressed to enable the widespread adoption of inverter-based resources across the grid. Feedback from industry on these research questions is incorporated, including discussions during the Workshop on Grid-forming Inverters for Low-inertia Power Systems. The workshop included industry presentations and discussion of ongoing research, technology gaps, and piloting needs. This roadmap concludes by offering a multiyear perspective on the gradual field validation of grid-forming inverters (see Figure ES-2). This perspective recognizes that the scale and scope of the types of power systems that inverters will be called on to provide grid-forming services will and should begin modestly. Specifically, this roadmap recognizes that inverter controls today are predominantly grid-following and that future power systems will involve a mix of inverter-based resources with both grid-following and grid-forming control capabilities. Growth over time will depend on how well grid-forming inverters perform and what advantages they bring as penetration levels (instantaneous and average) of inverter-based resources increases. This recognition, in turn, establishes a natural sequence of priorities for the research questions that must be addressed. Following this multiyear perspective, the roadmap offers short descriptions of two specific near-term research priorities: the review of regulatory and technical standards and the development of advanced modeling techniques. These priorities are foundational. We recommend immediate pursuit of them in parallel with and in direct support of the research outlined by our multiyear perspective.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages60
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5D00-73476


  • electric grid
  • grid-forming
  • inverter
  • power system


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