DER Challenge

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.

In a future where a household has an electric vehicle and charger, rooftop solar panels, an energy storage system in the garage, a smart thermostat and an advanced meter providing communication between these devices and the utility. These “plug and play” devices interoperating intelligently, solar generation is directed to EV charging and storage during times of high production and low costs. When the sun sets, stored energy is used to meet increased load, reducing stress on the grid and maintaining comfort and convenience for the customer.

We see benefits including improving grid reliability and resiliency; shaving and shifting peak load; reducing carbon emissions; deferring expensive grid and infrastructure investments; and empowering consumers to better manage their energy consumption and costs.

Teams worked to develop innovative interoperability solutions to lower integration costs and enable DERs to participate effectively in addressing system operational challenges.

This effort comprised of the Concept Phase and the Demonstration Phase. The Concept Phase started with a challenge to submit written concepts describing innovative ideas for advancing interoperability. The Demonstration Phase brought those innovative ideas to life through the development of a working interface specification.

Phase 1: Concept Phase
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.

Phase 2: Demonstration Phase
Three teams demonstrated hardware/software for DER integration and coordination with a simulated utility grid entity at North America Smart Energy Week in Salt Lake City, UT. Watch the demonstration video.

Sign-up To Learn More

Here’s where you come in! Receive the latest about what’s going on with the challenge and how you can get involved.

How to Engage

  1. Review the links & materials provided in the resource section above.
  2. Join the Energy Services Interface (ESI) Taskforce working to build on the concepts and demonstrations from the Plug and Play DER Challenge
  3. Receive the latest about what’s going on with the challenge and how you can get involved by signing up for updates.

Phase 1: Concept Phase

Summer 2018 | Plug and Play DER Challenge Call for Concepts: Smart Ideas Wanted for Grid Modernization
Aug 16, 2018 | Introduction to the Plug and Play DER Challenge webinar
Sept 26, 2018 | Qualifying selected participants presented their solutions at North America Smart Energy Week / Solar Power International, Anaheim, CA with networking and the poster reception after the presentation.
Oct 2018 | Opportunity for Concept submitters to interact, form new teams, and submit a revised proposal for the demonstration phase by October 31.
Nov – Dec 2018 | Review & Feedback to submitters in preparation for Phase 2

Phase 2: Demonstration Phase

Jan 24, 2019 | Presentation of final concepts at DOE Innovation X lab summit
Feb 14, 2019 | Webinar Presentation of 3 team Concepts to Demonstrate Plug and Play DER
July 31, 2019 | Design presentations and virtual demonstrations took place at SEPA’s Grid Evolution Summit in Washington, DC.
Sept 25, 2019 | 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.
2020 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.


For technical questions contact: Steve Widergren at [email protected], Bruce Nordman at [email protected] or Aditya Khandekar at [email protected].

For non-technical questions contact: Christine Stearn at [email protected].


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 was organized and administered by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)  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).

DER Challenge

Concept & Teams

Energy Services Interface Server (ESI Server)
DER Challenge
open Distributed Energy Management (openDEM)
DER ChallengeDER ChallengeDER Challenge
Open Demand Side Resource Integration Platform (OpenDSRIP)
DER ChallengeDER ChallengeDER ChallengeDER Challenge