The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a laboratory for studying reactive power supplied from distributed generation (DE). ORNL is unique in that it owns and operates its own electric distribution utility for the laboratory campus, and can configure the distribution system to provide optimum opportunities for testing of reactive power injection effects. The ORNL distribution system is directly fed by the TVA 161kV backbone transmission system. The reactive power laboratory and project is also unique in that the tests are designed by representatives from the electric utility industry and DE manufacturers to address the actual challenges faced by DE and utilities currently and in the future.
The laboratory is equipped for developing methods of incorporating distributed energy (DE) that can produce reactive power locally and for injecting into the distribution system. The benefit of this new type of DE is to be able to provide voltage regulation and dynamic reactive power reserves without the use of extensive communication and control systems.
The work on reactive power is conducted under the ORNL program for Distributed Energy Communications & Control (DECC) Project & Laboratory. Details of the project, equipment available in the laboratory, data acquisition and data analysis algorithms, milestones, papers and reports are available on the DECC website.