This article contributed by By Karen Quackenbush, Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Industry Association (FCHEA) and Mark Siira, IEEE


IEEE is an organization working to foster technological innovation and excellence to benefit humanity. As the world’s largest technical professional organization focused on technology advancement, IEEE creates industry standards to establish best practices in a broad range of technologies. IEEE is also responsible for maintaining and revising standards as necessary.

IEEE Standards Association  (IEEE-SA) is developing standards through an ANSI – approved process.

The IEEE standards are developed within one of the many IEEE societies, including:

  • IEEE Communications Society Information transfer with signals: terminals, computers, systems and operations, transmission media networks, layout, protocol, and architecture.
  • IEEE Computer Society All major areas of computing and information technology: computer hardware, software, multimedia, IT, security, networking, mobile computing, and more.
  • IEEE Consumer Technology Society All aspects of the modeling, design, construction, testing, and end-use of mass-market smart devices, systems, software, artificial intelligence, big data technology and services for advanced consumer products and services.
  • IEEE Industrial Electronics Society Industrial and manufacturing theory and applications of electronics, controls, communications, instrumentation, and computational intelligence.
  • IEEE Industry Applications Society Global design, development, application, and management of electrical and electronic systems, apparatus, devices and controls.
  • IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society Engineering and information technologies as applied to systems using synergistic technologies and systems engineering concepts.
  • IEEE Power & Energy Society Planning, R&D, design, construction, and operation of facilities systems for generation, transmission, and distribution of electric energy.
  • IEEE Power Electronics Society Development and practical application of power electronics technology; electronic components, circuit theory techniques, and use of analytical tools.
  • IEEE Reliability Society Attaining reliability, measuring, and maintaining it through the life of the system; availability, liability, quality, and system safety.
  • IEEE Vehicular Technology Society Land, airborne, maritime mobile communications. Vehicular electro-technology, automotive industry systems. Traction power, signals, control systems.

In cases where the standard project has a scope that crosses into multiple societies – A Standards Coordinating Committee is responsible to Coordinates efforts in these fields among the various IEEE societies and other affected organizations.  The IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee 21 oversees the development of standards in the areas of fuel cells, photovoltaics, dispersed generation, and energy storage

In addition to standards development and disseminating knowledge base among interested parties, the IEEE Industry Standards and Technology Organization (ISTO) helps alliances with programs to advance new technologies for the benefit of particular industries..  The IEEE-ISTO provides value to new and emerging technologies through the promotion and market acceptance of technology solutions through industry consortia, special interest groups (SIGs), trade groups and alliances.   ISTO allows rapid deployment of the required capabilities to industries and groups that have an established core and facilitates the formation and development of industry alliances. The ISTO helps its alliance members reach their goals through a variety of activities including:  standards development, conformity assessment programs, marketing support, conferences and overall technology education and promotion activities.  Standards developed under the ISTO typically are completed in a shorter time than through the IEEE process, and the Intellectual Property of such standards remains with the specific ISTO alliance that developed the standard.

While formally a separate entity from the IEEE, the IEEE-ISTO maintains an affiliation with the IEEE.

The industry playing field for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells is fertile to developing wholistic systems-level white papers, training in existing standards and actions to fill the gaps for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, allowing realization of the industry potential.

This article gives an overview of IEEE standards – we will look at one standard that is focus for today.   The standards that are undergoing revision most relevant to stationary Fuel Cells are the (Grid) Interconnection series (1547 Series) and Smart Grid Interoperability (2030 Series).  Together, these standards provide guidance and a framework for a robust and resilient electric power system.

Interconnection Standards

The purpose of this article is to introduce the Fuel Cell Industry to the body of standards that can have immediate and relevant impact on fuel cell industry.   The IEEE Standard 1547 (1547) is a voluntary industry standard for interconnecting distributed energy resources (DERs) with electrical power systems (EPSs). While businesses are not required to adhere to the standard, governing bodies and regulators often use IEEE standards as the foundation for laws.

The first version of IEEE 1547 was created in 2003 to establish technical rules for distributed energy interconnection and did not anticipate significant changes in the penetration of DER connected to the electric power system (Area EPS). With increasing technological and economic advances, the grid has begun to experience high levels of renewable energy sources using inverters in some areas., resulting in a need to revise 1547. This new revision is known as IEEE 1547-2018, and we will use the term throughout this article.

The goal of the IEEE 1547-2018 is to establish DER requirements that will maintain bulk system reliability long-term. With distributed system safety and power quality in mind, the revised standard will provide performance standards that allows flexibility foreach distribution system’s needs.

Since DER technologies vary in their ability to achieve performance requirements, treating all the technologies in the same way could exclude certain types of DER from interconnection. The revision mitigates this by establishing a category framework that will create harmonized interconnection requirements and offer flexibility in performance requirements.

Fuel cells that are applied in a stationary application – that may have an electrical connection to the electric utility system will be required to meet these requirements.   These requirements are expected to become mandatory by local regulator authorities by early 2022.

Key IEEE 1547 Requirements  – Voltage Regulation Under Normal Operating Conditions

The IEEE 1547-2018 revision is technology neutral. Instead of creating performance requirements for specific DER technologies, categories that designate performance requirements for a DER under normal and abnormal operating conditions have been established.

All DER will need to provide voltage regulation capability for response to voltage variations within the normal operating range.  This regulation can be performed by injecting reactive power and absorbing reactive power.  The requirements are specified along control modes.  For example, in the Voltage-reactive power mode – if voltage is lower than the reference setting for normal, the DER injects reactive power; if voltage is higher than reference, the DER absorbs reactive power to actively control voltage within the reference range.

To account for different Area EPS conditions, the requirements for Area EPS voltage regulation are specified in two performance categories:

Category A specifies minimal performance capabilities and are available with most DER technologies.

Category B covers all requirements within Category A and specifies supplemental capabilities needed where the DER penetration is higher or where the DER power output is variable.

IEEE 1547 Requirements – Abnormal Operating Conditions

To improve the stability of the Area EPS, the requirements DER system’s response should consider the performance requirements of the Area EPS and the bulk power system (BPS) to which the Area EPS is connected.  These requirements specify DER actions under abnormal conditions such as faults, open phase conditions, reclosing operation, and voltage.

A significant improvement in this standard is the precision of language used in the terminology for response to abnormal voltage and frequency.  For example, the description of actions required during and after disturbance have distinct definitions for certain actions under certain specified conditions.

  • Mandatory operation-
  • Momentary cessation
  • Permissive operation
  • Cease to energize
  • Trip

It is anticipated that the improved clarity in these requirements will improve the security and stability of the electric power system.

Restoring output and return to service requirements are also specified in the same manner.

The required capabilities for response to abnormal Area EPS conditions are specified in three operating performance categories: Category I, Category II, and Category III.   These will be specified by the EPS operator.  It is anticipated that the majority of DER should have Category II disturbance ride-through performance.

Other IEEE 1547 Requirements

Units v. System The new revision will change the way in which the standard is applied. Previously, the industry has applied IEEE 1547 and IEEE 1547.1 as an equipment standard, focusing on individual DER units. With the revision, the standard can be applied to the performance of DER units or the DER system as a whole.  This may be particularly attractive for stationary fuel cell systems that are modular in nature.

Reference Point of Applicability IEEE standards provide requirements that are intended to ensure the power grid is maintained and running efficiently. IEEE 1547-2018 will aid in this by establishing performance standards based on the reference point of applicability for distributed energy resources.   This allows for small systems or systems supporting their own load to have different performance requirements for DER facilities.

  • The point of DER connection (PoC) – used to indicate the point where a DER unit connects to the local EPS (or facility point of connection).
  • The point of common coupling (PCC) – the connection where a Local EPS meets an Area EPS.

Most DER facilities that are designed to predominately export power to the gird or are larger than 500KVA aggregate rating will be held to 1547 requirements at the PCC.

The new revision to 1547 will have a significant impact on testing and certification.

Interoperability Requirements All DER units and systems must have provisions for a local interface capable of communicating.  IEEE 1547-2018 specifies the information to be exchanged (i.e. nameplate, configuration etc.), communication performance requirements and communication protocol requirements.

Verification Additional steps to verify the performance of a system require a design review, and as-built installation evaluation in addition to a comprehensive commissioning requirement.

History/Timeline of IEEE Standard 1547

  • 2003 IEEE Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electrical Power Systems (1547-2003) was published as a voluntary industry standard.
  • 2005-2007 Policy Action in 2005-2007: Energy Policy Act (2005) – The act cites IEEE 1547 Standard as the best practice for interconnection and it is adopted by all states.
  • 2007-2011 Energy Independence and Security Act (2007) – The act cites IEEE as a standards development organization partner to NIST and lead to coordinate framework and roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability standards. IEEE 1547 is adopted by the majority of jurisdictional entities across North America that set DER interconnection rules.
  • 2013 Amendment 1 (IEEE 1547a) was passed to avoid bulk power systems reliability risk by allowing ranges of settings for tripping distributed resources for abnormal voltage and frequency. December 2013 – the process began to completely revise IEEE 1547.
  • 2014-2017 Working Group meetings to develop IEEE 1547-2018.
  • 2017 IEEE IEEE 1547-2018 balloted and approved
  • 2018 Revision of the testing standards of IEEE P 1547.1 and final editing of this standard.
  • 2020 1547.1 Test and Verification procedures approved NARUC resolution recommends State commissions adopt IEEE 1547-2018 and align implementation of the Standard with the availability of certified equipment. For most systems over 500KVA, it is now required that commissioning tests be performed after the interconnection system is fully constructed / upgraded and installed prior to activation.

This article is intended to introduce opportunities for the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Industries that may result from current activities or added capabilities to the industry. We look forward to sharing many more cases and discussions.