Standards over the boundaries of international boundaries, increase technical evolution and help vendors and users wisely plan infrastructure/product roadmaps. So, by paving the way for innovations to be more cost-effectively developed and implemented worldwide, standards spur technological and market growth.

One of the areas where this statement is clearly evidenced today is renewable energy sources, particularly with regard to their interconnection with the developing smart grid. Because utility systems for power transport and delivery were not conceived to connect with active, distribution-level generation technologies, standards development was needed to help the power industry adapt as that need and opportunity emerged.

For example, when it was published in 2003, IEEE 1547™ “Standard for Distributed Resources Interconnected with Electric Power Systems” broke ground with performance, operation, testing, safety considerations and maintenance specifications for interconnecting distributed-generation technologies of 10 MegaVolt Ampere (MVA) or less at the point of common coupling with the grid. Not only did IEEE reaffirm IEEE 1547 in 2008, extensions to the base standard have been crafted to address new, related needs as they have arisen among utilities, distributed-resource operators, equipment providers and regulators. Published extensions to IEEE 1547 today address:

  • production and commissioning tests for conformance to the base standard,
  • application guidance,
  • techniques for monitoring distributed systems,
  • microgrid deployment,
  • distributed sources of greater scale than 10 MVA and
  • interconnection with distribution secondary networks.

The rollout of the IEEE 1547 family has coincided with the increased adoption of distributed resources throughout distribution systems. Consider the impact of standards on the solar industry, specifically. Solar energy has been a fertile area of global standards development, with the emergence of standards covering batteries for photovoltaic (PV) applications, testing and application in commercial power generating stations, among other key topics.

According to Intersolar Europe, a huge exhibition for the global solar industry taking place in Munich, Germany, in June 2012, more PV systems were installed worldwide than ever before in 2011.[1] Furthermore, buildout of PV power plants is of keen interest in the Middle East and North Africa, among other markets, because of the relative speed at which they can be brought online and for their potential to spur economic growth. Innovation in the solar industry’s enabling technologies is rapidly paced, too. One of the intriguing possibilities of solar technology that is being explored is the potential of roof-mounted PV systems to feed electric-vehicle (EV) batteries that could, in turn, store and feed energy back to the smart grid to aid stabilization.

Today, standards development around interconnection of solar and other renewable sources continues.

IEEE P1547.7™ “Draft Guide to Conducting Distribution Impact Studies for Distributed Resource Interconnection,” for example, is under development with IEEE and designed to describe the criteria, scope and extent for engineering impact studies of interconnecting distributed resources with area distribution systems.

And then there’s IEEE P1547.8™ “Draft Recommended Practice for Establishing Methods and Procedures that Provide Supplemental Support for Implementation Strategies for Expanded Use of IEEE Standard 1547.” This standard is being developed to identify innovative designs, processes and operational procedures that might enhance the usefulness of the IEEE 1547 base to emergent technologies such as solar and other renewable sources.

By fanning global demand for solar and other renewable-energy technologies, the ongoing, global rollout of the smart grid will only intensify the need for standards for grid interconnection and storage, system installation and safety—and the cycle of technological and business growth that those standards fuel.



In addition to his role as chair of the IEEE 2030 Working Group (, Dick DeBlasio is a past member of the IEEE Standards Association Board of Governors and chief engineer with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (


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