Many microgrids consist of a solar PV system, battery storage, and a backup generator or back up fuel cell system. The backup generator or fuel cell system, run on hydrogen, natural gal, propane, diesel, gasoline, or other fuel sources, provides resilience for the microgrid. Propane is a low carbon fuel source that produces less soot than diesel and can help achieve emissions goals without any additional costs to the customer. For that reason there is great opportunity for propane in microgrid backup generators.
In this paper, the Propane Education and Research Council presents two case studies illustrating the benefits of using propane generators in hybrid microgrids. First, they look at use of propane generators in light commercial applications, specifically a community housing development in San Diego, California. They compare test results from a generic diesel backup generator, an off-the-shelf propane generator, a combined heat and power (CHP) engine generator, and a propane solid oxide fuel cell. They then present findings from a large commercial operation in Mammoth Lakes, California.
The authors explain how propane is competitive to diesel for microgrid applications requiring resiliency while still offering diesel-like efficiencies and a comparable levelized cost of electricity (LCOE).