Managing large amounts of distributed energy resources on electricity grids

Part of Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy?

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.

Versatile, automated testing of new distributed energy technologies

What is the aim of this project?

The SunSpec System Validation Platform is an open-source distributed energy resource certification platform. It allows versatile, automated testing of new distributed energy technologies for different designs and sizes, on grids with very different characteristics such as frequencies or voltages. This project aims to (a) collaborate with standards development organisations to create interoperability testing protocols and (b) write open-source test platform software that will accelerate the certification process, and reduce time and human error in test implementation.

How could this technology be explained to a high school student?

New distributed energy resource technologies include small-scale wind and solar power plants, batteries and demand-side flexibility measures, such as smart meters combined with incentives for consumers to adjust their energy use. They need to be designed, built and operated to fit in seamlessly with existing electricity grids. Investors in these emerging technologies, as well as manufacturers and installers, benefit if they can be sure their equipment will pass the tests that certify that it is ready to be connected the grid. Grid operators need confidence that these new technologies will function correctly on the power system.

Research institutes are collaborating through the Smart Grid International Research Facility Network to develop and evaluate testing protocols for advanced functions that enable distributed energy resources to operate together, as well as test scripts (programming codes) and other tools that allow the automation of testing procedures.

Validating the behaviour of these devices for a range of conditions and use cases accelerates the deployment of these novel technologies by providing confidence the equipment will work as intended in the power system.

What is the value of this project for society?

  • standardises the capabilities of emerging distributed energy resources
  • accelerates the integration of variable renewables, storage and other low-carbon distributed technologies needed for the clean energy transition
  • increases the confidence of grid operators that new technologies will operate correctly on their networks, while boosting investor confidence.

At what stage of development is this project?

The project started in May 2012. Current activities include:

  • developing open-source certification test scripts for different test protocols and standards (e.g. UL 1741 SA, IEEE 1547.1, AS/NZS 4777.2)
  • establishing automated testing procedures using the SunSpec System Validation Platform
  • conducting automated certification testing of distributed energy resource devices at different laboratories belonging to the Smart Grid International Research Facility Network
  • sharing, comparing and analysing test results from multiple laboratories with different setups to verify common test protocols
  • contributing recommendations for procedures and parameters in the certification test protocols that will be implemented in national grid codes or international standards
  • communicating project findings through international webinars, workshops, conference and journal papers.

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • increasing resources for power grid standards, certification and testing
  • improving international collaboration on smart grid research and development.

Automated testbed with open source system validation platform software (Sunspec SVP).

Video presentation

Partners and funders


  • CanmetENERGY, Natural Resources Canada (Canada)
  • Sandia National Laboratories (United States)
  • Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (Korea)
  • Austrian Institute of Technology (Austria)
  • National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Japan)
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia)
  • Tecnalia Research & Innovation (Spain)
  • SunSpec Alliance (USA)
  • Ricerca sul Sistema (Italy)
  • Central Power Research Institute (India).


  • The project is supported by national funds from each of the above research institutions.

Learn more

About the Technology Collaboration Programme on Smart Grids (ISGAN TCP)

The ISGAN TCP is a strategic platform to support high-level government attention and action for the accelerated development and deployment of smarter, cleaner electricity grids around the world. Operating as both an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial, and as a TCP, the ISGAN TCP provides an important channel for communication of experience, trends, lessons learned, and visions in support of clean energy objectives as well as new flexible and resilient solutions for smart grids.