pdvWireless Partners with NREL to Study Private LTE for Microgrids
Thursday, February 07, 2019 | Comments

pdvWireless and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Department of Energy's (DOE) primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development, partnered to analyze the performance of private Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks and accelerate the development and validation of approaches to enhance the resilience of distribution systems, including microgrids, with high penetration of distributed energy resources (DERs).

The DOE awarded the project high-impact status, given to projects that look to accelerate innovation in the private sector and develop scalable technologies that satisfy the goals of the U.S. DOE Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI). Leveraging pdvWireless’ 900 MHz spectrum and NREL's Advanced Distribution Management Systems (ADMS) test facility, the two organizations will install a broadband LTE wireless communications system to test current and future use cases in a variety of network communications congestion scenarios that represent real-life challenges faced by utility distribution systems.

The goal of the project is to develop the capability to evaluate the combined performance of integrated ADMS and communications systems and specifically determine the capabilities of private LTE networks as an enhanced communications layer for real-time monitoring and active control of advanced distribution systems that are essential in supporting electric grid modernization. The testing will be conducted at the Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, Colorado, one of the facilities in the National Laboratory complex.

"Having spent much of my career working within an electric utility with a focus on IT and telecommunications infrastructure, I've witnessed firsthand the rapidly growing need for secure and private communications networks for reliable utility operations," said Mike Brozek, senior vice president of technology for pdvWireless. “PDV and NREL's high-impact partnership recognizes the need for strong and secure communications systems, not only for the energy management systems of today, but those that will be integrated into the electric grids of tomorrow. PDV is proud to work with NREL to help the energy sector better facilitate private communications networks for reliable, resilient and secure energy distribution."

Phase one of the partnership will include the facilitation of a license for use of 900 MHz broadband within the NREL campus, and subsequently test and measure the performance of the LTE system under a simulation of typical utility type traffic. Additionally, utility control devices will be integrated into the LTE network to develop a quantified understanding of the performance of an ADMS when the communications system is LTE based.

The results of this proof-of-concept evaluation will provide guidance for utilities on the performance of ADMS when operating on a private LTE network. Members of the utility industry are invited to participate in the project and gain insight from the collaborative work.

"At NREL, we are working to develop innovative technologies that will facilitate the deployment of advanced distribution management systems," said Martha Symko-Davies, laboratory program manager at the ESIF at NREL. “While the goal for NREL is to validate the capabilities of telecommunications as an enhanced layer for real-time communications, PDV is looking more specifically at using private LTE wireless network technology within a specific band. NREL and PDV will work together to achieve these goals. Our partnership with PDV will help inform the energy sector of the effectiveness of an ADMS using a private broadband network enabled by LTE technology."

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