Smart inverters are advanced power electronics that bring autonomy to electrical grids, making them more reliable, resilient, and secure. These inverters better connect distributed energy resources (DERs) to the electrical grid and allow them to be powered by a greater array of renewable energy sources.
In recent years, a number of U.S. states, including Hawaii and California, have passed requirements that smart inverters be used to connect DERs to electrical grids, according to Solar Today Magazine. These small, modular power generation and storage technologies are able to provide consumers with electricity closer to where they are located. According to AEMC, DERs can include solar photovoltaic units, windmills, battery storage units, open and closed cycle gas turbines, biomass generators, fuel cells, and more.
Smart inverters can automatically spot and respond to information, such as voltage and frequency, in order to keep the grid stable. This characteristic makes them essential in creating a modern, interconnected electrical grid. However, integrating them into the grid has been a challenge. Up until just a few years ago, there was no way to test smart inverters to ensure they complied with standards. However, the IEEE Standard 1547-2020—revised from the original 2003 version— has changed that.
What is IEEE Standard 1547?
As we previously reported, the original IEEE Standard 1547 established a technical standard for interconnecting DERs with electrical power systems. Since then, the electrical grid has evolved to include more sophisticated DER interconnection applications, making the electrical grid more reliable, with wide-ranging impacts on utilities and customers.
To maintain long-term integrity of the standard, a revision was introduced in 2018. The revision leveraged the capabilities of inverter-based DERs and allowed them to function like traditional generators. With requirements affecting performance, safety, and the management of interconnection, IEEE Standard 1547-2018 governed how DER devices are tested and developed, and also determined how DER should be assimilated into the grid.
IEEE Standard 1547.1-2020
While IEEE Standard 1547-2018 was an improvement, there was a problem. According to Energy Storage News, procedures for testing these new capabilities would also need to be updated before products could be approved. In May 2020, this need was addressed by IEEE Standard 1547.1-2020, IEEE Standard Conformance Test Procedures for Equipment Interconnecting Distributed Energy Resources with Electric Power Systems and Associated Interfaces. This represented the test standard for grid interaction for DERs, such as solar photovoltaics and battery storage inverters, based on IEEE 1547-2018 requirements.
IEEE 1547.1-2020 set guidance that allowed DER developers across the U.S. to meet requirements. As a result, states can take on more advanced interconnection requirements for DERs in electrical grids, allowing for larger numbers of renewables and energy storage on the grid.
While IEEE Standard 1547 has led to many advancements in modern electrical grids, it is sure to continue to evolve alongside increasingly complex power grid systems. Understanding this standard is essential for professionals who work in the utility industry.
Is Your Organization Prepared for the Deployment of Distributed Energy Resources?
Train your entire technical team with Introduction to IEEE Standard 1547-2018: Connecting Distributed Energy Resources, an online course program from IEEE.
Lydic, Brian. (10 August 2020). The long-awaited IEEE standard that paves the way for more energy storage on a smarter grid. Energy Storage News.
Driscoll, William. (2 July 2022). States Would Be Smart to Require Smart Inverters for New Distributed Resources. Solar Today Magazine.
Distributed energy resources. AEMC.