NREL and Copper Labs to use utility meter data for grid estimation tool

NREL and Copper Labs to use utility meter data for grid estimation tool
Image courtesy Chris Liverani/Unsplash.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Copper Labs are combining forces to develop an estimation tool, which will coordinate utility meter datasets to enable real-time visibility of the grid.

The collaboration stems from a US Department of Energy $3 million grant for their work on the Solar-Assisted, Stakeholder-Engaged, Autonomous Restoration with Data Orchestration Program (Solar-HERO).

The Solar-HERO project is focused on automation strategies for rapid energy restoration, for which the estimation tool will be co-developed.

NREL, which researches and develops strategies and technology within the energy sector, will work on the project alongside US-based Copper Labs, which provides data solutions for utilities.

Through the project, utility metering data will be used by research teams to identify gaps in information and community needs prior to building a visibility and controllability upgrade plan that enables automated restoration during power outages.

“Real-time meter data is an essential part of any energy service disruption response strategy,” said Dan Forman, CEO of Copper Labs.

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Solutions to the project require real-time field data orchestration, which will be coordinated through Copper Labs’ technology.

The company’s hardware can be installed in central locations to remotely access data from hundreds of individual meters at once, providing utilities and their customers with their own real-time usage data.

Information gathered from the devices is hoped to enable rapid data sharing of grid status, saving crucial time during extreme power outages or energy loss events.

Added Forman: “With Copper Labs’ technology, we’re supporting the Solar-HERO project with better data from existing meters without requiring hardware retrofits. We are especially proud to bring our technology to a project focused on underserved communities that have previously been vulnerable to system interruptions.”

Grant funding for the project was awarded through the Renewable Advancing Community Energy Resilience (RACER) Funding programme.

The $33 million funding programme supports energy resilience projects and is designed to foster engagement among stakeholders, such as utilities, emergency responders and community groups, especially in areas vulnerable to energy service disruptions.

Additionally, the team will develop a virtual emergency operations centre allowing interaction and coordination between the different stakeholders to complete rapid and equitable power restoration.