Plug & Play DER Challenge

Transforming Energy with Visionary DER Interoperability

With the growth of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), the industry needs one cohesive way to smoothly integrate DERs for safe interaction with the electric grid. Competing teams are working to develop the best interoperability solutions to lower integration costs and enable DERs to deliver increased system performance and enhanced future capabilities.

This effort started with a challenge to submit written concepts describing innovative ideas for advancing interoperability. Over 20 individuals/companies shared abstracts, and nine written concepts resulted in the formation of three competing teams to develop demonstrable solutions in a demonstration phase of the Challenge.

2019 Demonstration Phase Timeline

Jan 24  | Presentation of final concepts at DOE Innovation X lab summit

Feb 14 | SEPA webinar

July 31 | Design presentations and virtual demonstrations will take place at SEPA’s Grid Evolution Summit in Washington, DC on Wed, July 31st.

Sept 23 – 26 | Live Demonstrations – hardware/software for DER integration and coordination with a simulated utility grid entity will be demonstrated by finalist teams at North America Smart Energy Week in Salt Lake City, UT on Wed, 9/25 at 10:30 am..

Post Demonstration Phase: The interface specifications and integration concepts from leading submissions are expected to influence future directions for standards, testing, policies, and product developments.

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For the history of the challenge:

[Name and contact information will be shared with Grid Modernization Lab Consortium]


For technical questions contact: Steve Widergren at, Bruce Nordman at or Aditya Khandekar at

For non-technical questions contact: Christine Stearn at


About the challenge

The purpose of this challenge is to demonstrate visionary interoperability capabilities that can lower the costs of integrating distributed energy resources with the electric power system. This project aims to improve Interoperability as it eases technology integration. To the degree that our technologies and systems lack good Interoperability, it drives up costs, reduces system performance and capabilities and creates vulnerabilities. Particularly, in the case of DER, interoperability-related problems make it more difficult to integrate high amounts of renewable energy sources, energy storage, and demand flexibility. The GMLC Interoperability project has outlined a strategic vision of interoperability for our electric system which this challenge aims to demonstrate in reality.

Collaboration and Supporting Organizations

This challenge is being organized and administered by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for the Department of Energy’s Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium (GMLC), as part of an initiative to improve Interoperability, in collaboration with the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA).

Concept & Teams

Energy Services Interface Server (ESI Server)

open Distributed Energy Management (openDEM)

Open Demand Side Resource Integration Platform (OpenDSRIP)