The Future of Renewable Energy Transmission: An Autonomous Energy Grid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The drastic price reduction in variable renewable energy, such as wind and solar, coupled with the ease of use of smart technologies at the consumer level, is driving dramatic changes to the power system that will significantly transform how power is made, delivered, and used. Distributed energy resources (DERs)—which can include solar photovoltaic (PV), fuel cells, microturbines, gensets, distributed energy storage (e.g., batteries, ice storage), and new loads (e.g., electric vehicles (EVs), light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, smart appliances, and electric heat pumps)—are being added to electric grids and causing bidirectional power flows and voltage fluctuations that can impact optimal control and system operation. Residential solar installations, customer battery systems, and EVs are all seeing rapid increases in deployments. With DER seeing such increased use, it is not unreasonable to imagine a residential electricity customer having at least five controllable DERs. In future electric grids, as more DERs are integrated, the number of active control points will be too much for current control approaches to effectively manage.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)12-16
Number of pages5
JournalThe Bridge
Issue number116
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-77983


  • autonomous energy grid
  • grid
  • scalable algorithms


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