University of California, Riverside

Center for Environmental Research & Technology

Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative

Research Towards a Sustainable Future: Integrating solar electricity generation, smart distribution, commercial-scale energy storage, and electric transportation.

For 2016 SIGI highlights, click here.


In 2014, UC-Riverside launched the Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative (SIGI), one of the largest renewable energy initiatives of its kind in the state. This initiative was developed specifically to research and implement systems that demonstrate the successful integration of intermittent renewable energy, energy storage, and all types of electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

At the heart of the SIGI initiative is our unique testbed housed at UC Riverside.

The Riverside SIGI Testbed has the following key features, spaced throughout the city:

  • Four megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels
  • Two megawatt-hours of battery energy storage
  • Twenty-seven electric vehicle charging stations
  • An electric-powered trolley service
  • Energy monitoring and smart dispatch
  • Open architecture designed for expansion

What makes the UCR SIGI testbed unique is that from its original conception, it was designed to be a flexible research platform to study the various configurations and technologies that can comprise a smart grid system. Our testbed, which has been operational for a year and a half, is one of the most versatile of its kind, featuring easily interchangeable technologies to demonstrate new prototypes, highly re-configurable switching systems to route through different buildings (we have laboratories, industrial and office buildings on our site) and an open source control platform to optimize operations for different strategies (for example, designing systems to minimize cost, demonstrate zero net energy operation, or function without exporting any power to the grid, which is required by some utilities). The testbed continuously collects a wide array of information on the performance and characteristics of each component – for example, the efficiency of the inverters, the state of health of the batteries, or the surface temperature of the solar panels – to help evaluate the benefits of various strategies under different conditions.

SIGI Research Consortium

The testbed makes the perfect setting to research and test different strategies and technologies in the real world, from building to neighborhood scale situations. We have developed a consortium where interested parties, including technology manufacturers, utilities, and government agencies that can, test prototypes, access the data, have access to training programs and learn about the latest research in addressing challenges in system applications on a community-wide sustainable grid project. Using our testbed, our team can also help to evaluate new prototype technologies in an applied setting, or compare two technologies or strategies side by side. Some of the recent evaluations we have conducted include:

  • Demonstration of zero net energy office building use
  • Demonstration of zero net energy office building use with 7% EV users
  • Using SIGI to help local utility avoid brown out by providing power to the grid without reducing operations
  • Cost Impact analysis of level 3 chargers on a typical office building, and strategies to reduce the cost impact
  • Performance of Solar Panels in Summer and Winter conditions
  • How to optimize Performance and lifetime of Lithium ion batteries used for smart grid applications
  • How to reduce electric bill by up to 40% using storage with renewables
  • How can EVs impact the grid, and how to mitigate their impact using battery storage
  • Typical profile of use of light duty EV usage in the City of Riverside
  • Demonstration of a fully electric transit trolley in the City of Riverside
  • Demonstration of demand side management to reduce electrical costs by 20%

SIGI Testbed

Mini-SIGI Design and Optimization Services

In addition to the experience gained with our testbed system, our staff and researchers have a high level of expertise working with schools, government agencies and private industries to assist in installing efficient SIGI systems that provide renewable electricity, supporting electric vehicle operations, and minimizing costs and disturbances to the grid. From working with the funding entities to help acquire funding, the utilities and municipalities with permitting and access, to smart system design and optimization, our full service packages include the design, proof of concept, installation, optimization and training for specific applications. To date, we are developing ‘mini’ SIGI systems at:

  • Chemehuevi Indian Tribe
  • City Hall of Rancho Cucamonga
  • UCR Main Campus
  • UCR Palm Desert facility

A systems install can start from the ground up, or it can examine how your current solar or other systems can be optimized with additional components such as added storage and smart algorithms to dramatically reduce your electric bill. For more information, contact the Marketing Team at

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Center Information

Center for Environmental Research & Technology
1084 Columbia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92507
Directions to CERT

Tel: (951) 781-5791
Fax: (951) 781-5790

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