Understanding Power Systems Protection in the Clean Energy Future

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Wind and solar power and battery energy storage are often referred to as inverter-based resources (IBRs), which means they rely on power electronics (inverters) to generate grid-compatible electricity. This is unlike the fossil, nuclear, and hydroelectric plants that use spinning synchronous generators that have provided nearly all U.S. electricity until recently. Synchronous generators can inherently provide several services used to maintain a safe and stable grid and as they are replaced with IBRs it becomes important to understand how these services can be provided. One of these services is fault current, or the ability to inject large amounts of current during a short circuit. This current can easily be detected with low-cost equipment such as circuit breakers. IBRs do not inherently produce large amounts of fault current, and this may eventually require finding alternative sources of fault current or new system protection schemes. This document describes several alternative approaches to maintaining fault current protection and provide a safe, reliable power grid.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A40-82269


  • inverter
  • short circuit strength


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