Distributed Generation Testing Protocols

From Open Energy Information

Distributed Generation (DG) systems offer significant benefits such as reduced line losses and improved combined heat and power (CHP) capability. However, the lack of accurate, unbiased performance data impedes their implementation. To address this need, protocols have been developed for laboratory testing, field testing, long-term monitoring, and case studies of microturbines, reciprocating engines (including Stirling engines), fuel cells, and small turbines up to 3 MW.

The laboratory test, field test, and long-term monitoring protocols establish procedures for assessing the electrical, thermal, and environmental performance of DG-CHP systems. In addition to this, field test protocols and long-term monitoring protocols specify procedures to evaluate the operational performance (reliability, availability, maintainability, and durability) of the DG-CHP systems. Case study protocols investigate financial as well as certain qualitative aspects of DG-CHP systems.

Some records of DG-CHP installations created using the protocols are kept on this site and a related site in searchable databases. Those who use these protocols are encouraged, but not required, to share their data through this database.

About the Program

This ASERTTI program is managed by Mark Hanson of Hoffman, LLC and Joe Kramer and Sherry Benzmiller of the Energy Center of Wisconsin. The program managers are guided by the Steering Committee consisting of entities supporting the protocols program, and Stakeholder Advisory Group which includes manufacturers, researchers, consultants and other public and private sector groups.

The following organizations have contributed substantially to the production of the individual protocols:

These protocols were developed as part of the Collaborative National Program for the Development and Performance Testing of Distributed Power Technologies wih Emphasis on Combined Heat and Power Applications, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and members of the Association of State Energy Research and Technology Transfer Institutions (ASERTTI). The sponsors who also serve on the Steering Committee are the California Energy Commission, CHP Regional Applications Centers, Concurrent Technologies Corporation, the Energy Center of Wisconsin, Montana State University-Billings, the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Other sponsors are the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the U.S. Department of Defense Fuel Cell Test and Evaluation Center, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development.

Additional reports including laboratory and field protocol validation reports are available at the site.


Protocols have been developed covering microturbines, reciprocating engines, and small turbines, and fuel cells up to 3 MW, and are available for downloading as PDF files.

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Laboratory Test Protocols

The laboratory performance testing is done for a specific set of limited conditions, and allows more control than is possible in the field.

Laboratory Test Protocols (PDF 739 KB)

Field Testing Protocol

The field performance testing is for assessing a set of field operating conditions for up to two weeks.

Field Testing Protocol (PDF 729 KB)

Long-term Monitoring Protocol

Like field testing, long-term monitoring (LTM) of DG/CHP unit performance is done at real-world applications; unlike field testing, LTM measures a few parameters and is expected to be in effect continuously without an explicit completion date.

Long-term Monitoring Protocol (PDF 219 KB)

Case Study Protocol

LTM sites may be assessed in project case studies. Case studies are unique because their goal is to assess financial performance (e.g. energy cost, equipment cost) and certain qualitative aspects (e.g. major reasons to install DG/CHP, lessons learned from the installation) of DG/CHP performance.

Case Study Protocol (PDF 306 KB)

Interim Protocols

The following is a list of interim versions of the protocols that are available for downloading as PDF files:

  • Interim Laboratory Testing Protocol (PDF 1.37 MB)
  • Interim Field Testing Protocol (PDF 1.32 MB)
  • Interim Long-term Monitoring Protocol (PDF 443 KB)
  • Interim Case Study Protocol (PDF 565 KB)