DER Test Protocols

Growing penetrations of highly variable renewable energy sources, most notably distributed solar photovoltaics (PV) are leading to concerns about grid voltage and frequency deviations. Inverters and power conditioning systems (i.e., batteries) have the ability to help stabilize the grid, and functional definitions were standardized in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Report 61850-90-7. A growing number of jurisdictions are mandating their use, but certification laboratories, utilities and other stakeholders need a test procedure to ensure inverters and other connected devices perform appropriately. Therefore, it is important to develop a robust consensus certification procedure for interoperability and grid-support functions (or advanced inverter functions) for adoption by international standards organizations.

Research Context

The ultimate goals of this working group are to create consensus interoperability testing protocols and test platform software that will contribute to the establishment of a harmonized, international certification standard for any DER on any electricity grid in the world, as well as the tools that will facilitate automation of the testing, thus reducing a major barrier to test implementation. To serve a basis for international certification standards for several of the functions defined in IEC 61850-90-7, Sandia National Laboratories (U.S.) created “Test Protocols for Advanced Inverter Interoperability Functions”. Several SIRFN participants across the U.S., Europe, Australia and Asia have since exercised and evaluated the protocols to compare results across different grid environments. This work acted as the basis for American certification procedures in Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 1741. The goup also conducted testing based on UL 1741 SA at different test labs and provided recommendations on the test procedure.

The SunSpec Alliance and the SIRFN DER test protocol community have been collaborating for years to create a versatile open-source DER testing and certification platform that automatically executes test procedures for multiple certification standards. The group has developed draft standards for energy storage systems, evaluated grid-support functions in multiple DER devices, and created test scripts for UL 1741 SA and IEEE 1547.1 standards.


SIRFN is developing and evaluating testing protocols for advanced interoperability distributed energy resource (DER) functions as well as the scripts and other tools that allow the automation of testing procedures. This work will not only improve the test protocols for adoption by code-making bodies, but also identify opportunities to improve the design and operation of smart grid test beds around the several international facilities (as shown in below Figure).  Fig.: Generic test beds autonomously orchestrated by System Validation Platform


The SIRFN work will improve the test procedures and incorporate them in national and international standards by:

  • Building test-beds for advanced interoperability DER testing in SIRFN laboratories
  • Coordinating the experimental testing of DER devices in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Asia to ensure the protocols are robust to a range of electric grids and test equipment
  • Comparing results from advanced DER function experiments
  • Revising the test protocols to prepare it for adoption by code-making bodies

Planned Deliverables

  • Create DER certification testbeds

The SIRFN laboratories all contributing to an open-source repository of software tools that control laboratory equipment to orchestrate DER interconnection and interoperability certification standards testing. As each lab contributes to the collection of drivers, the collection of software tools becomes more comprehensive and there is a lower barrier to begin this type of work for the following laboratories.

  • Create Certification Scripts

The group has developed test scripts for Sandia test protocol, UL 1741 standard. The SIRFN laboratories are currently contributing to creating IEEE 1547.1 Python scripts for the SVP. The group will also develop test scripts for draft grid codes from Asia, Europe and Australia.

  • Conduct Certification Testing at SIRFN Laboratories

The SIRFN laboratories will conduct IEEE 1547.1 tests using the open-source test platform and test scripts. The conducted tests and compiled test results will allow the laboratories to provide feedback to the IEEE standards development organization to improve the balloted  IEEE 1547.1 standard before formal adoption within the US and Canada. The group will also conduct testing for other upcoming grid codes from different jurisdictions and will provide feedback to the associated working groups.


Nayeem Ninad
CanmetENERGY, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)

Related Publications:

R. Bründlinger, T. Strasser, G. Lauss, A. Hoke, S. Chakraborty, G. Martin, B. Kroposki, J. Johnson, E. de Jong, Lab Tests: Verifying That Smart Grid Power Converters Are Truly Smart, IEEE Power and Energy Magazine, vol.13, no.2, pp.30,42, March-April 2015. doi: 10.1109/MPE.2014.2379935

J. Johnson, R. Bründlinger, C. Urrego, R. Alonso, Collaborative Development Of Automated Advanced Interoperability Certification Test Protocols For PV Smart Grid Integration, EU PVSEC, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 22-26 Sept, 2014.

J. Johnson, B. Fox, Automating the Sandia Advanced Interoperability Test Protocols, 40th IEEE PVSC, Denver, CO, 8-13 June, 2014.

J. Johnson, S. Gonzalez, A. Ellis, Sandia DER Interoperability Test Protocols: Relationship to Grid Codes and Standards, IEEE International Conference on Standards for Smart Grid Ecosystems, Bangalore, India. 6-7 Mar, 2014.

J. Johnson S. Gonzalez, M.E. Ralph, A. Ellis, and R. Broderick, Test Protocols for Advanced Inverter Interoperability Functions, Sandia Technical Reports SAND2013- 9880 and SAND2013-9875, Nov. 2013.

You can find other SIRFN publications here.

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