"Big data" is playing an increasingly big role in the renewable energy industry and the transformation of the nation's electrical grid, and no single entity provides a better tool for such data than the Energy Department's Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) located on the campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Imagined by NREL leaders who foresaw the possibilities for high performance computing (HPC), the ESIF's HPC data center is 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.