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Tackling Power Grid Challenges with the Peregrine Supercomputer

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, right, joins NREL Director Dan Arvizu, center, and NREL Computational Science Center Director Steve Hammond, left, at the unveiling of Peregrine.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, right, joins NREL Director Dan Arvizu, center, and NREL Computational Science Center Director Steve Hammond, left, at the unveiling of Peregrine.

Modernizing the nation’s energy grid is a daunting task that involves extreme Big Data challenges. Custom-built for the challenge, NREL’s Peregrine supercomputer is already fulfilling the goal of handling large and complex datasets that exceed traditional database processes.

As industry moves forward to integrate all these renewables, big data is a key piece of the puzzle,” ESIF Business Development Manager Martha Symko-Davies said. “The links between modeling and simulation, hardware, and good, bad, and aggregated data—all parts of the whole puzzle—are captured at the ESIF through big data.”

That’s why the ESIF’s Peregrine supercomputer, dedicated by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in September 2013, is so important; it can do more than a quadrillion calculations per second as part of the world’s most energy-efficient HPC data center.

Peregrine provides much-needed computational capability to model complex systems such as the grid, to allow us to ask ‘what if’ questions, and to optimize how these systems are designed and deployed with much higher confidence in their efficiency and robustness,” said NREL Computational Science Center Director Steve Hammond.

Increasingly, those “what ifs” involve the challenge of delivering distributed energy to the grid when the sun shines and the wind blows, while making it even more reliable than when the grid was a one-way delivery system of fossil-fuel-based energy. “By focusing on the integration and optimization of energy systems across the energy infrastructure, we can better understand and make use of potential co-benefits that increase reliability and performance, reduce cost, and minimize environmental impacts,” NREL Director of Energy Systems Integration (ESI) Ben Kroposki said.

This focus will help map the pathway NREL will pioneer with the Energy Department to modernize the nation’s electrical grid. The ESIF “will be a major focus of DOE to help us transform the energy system to the one we need in 2030,” Moniz told the audience at the ESIF’s dedication. The ESIF is “the step up we need to elevate energy systems integration,” he said.

In this video from ISC’14, Steve Hammond from NREL and Nic Dube from HP describe the energy efficient Peregrine supercomputer at the National Renewable Energy Lab. As a prototype for the HP Apollo 8000 system, Peregrine has achieved a remarkable 1.05 PUE rating for energy efficiency.

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