US DOE Incorporates Microgrids into Plan for 16 Federal Projects

Dec. 8, 2020
The DOE is incorporating microgrids as part of a program to spur $440 million in energy improvements for 16 federal projects.

In another sign that the US government is making energy resilience a priority, the Department of Energy (DOE) is incorporating microgrids as part of a program to spur $440 million in energy improvements for 16 federal projects

Announced late last week, the effort is meant to bring energy efficiency and resilience to a range of facilities from ports to military bases to building campuses.

The DOE will provide $11 million to leverage an expected $440 million in performance contracting for the projects.

Several of the federal projects including microgrids, among them a General Services Administration Region 7 facility in Oklahoma, which plans to install a campus microgrid that incorporates four courthouses and a parking garage, operated under a utility energy services contract. The project includes solar, batteries and microgrid controls, along with a range of energy conservation measures. 

Military microgrids dominate

Several of the other microgrid projects are at military facilities. 

Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County, Illinois, south of St. Louis, intends to improve the resilience and energy efficiency of its data centers and control and command centers. The project will include solar PV, a 100 kW battery energy storage system (BESS) and microgrid controls, which will operated under a energy performance contract.

In Fairfax, Virginia, Fort Belvoir plans to undertake a range of energy efficiency and resilience measures, which include solar PV combined with a battery system with microgrid capabilities, backed up by natural gas engine generators.

The Fort Belvoir project is designed to reduce energy use and cost, improve resilience, and increase the use of renewable energy. The base is striving to meet a requirement that Army facilities be capable of providing 14 days of on-site power if the electric grid fails. S&C Electric has already installed GridMaster Microgrid Control System to demonstrate embedded cybersecurity protection at the base.

The Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County, California, an area subject to wildfire-related power disruptions, is adding battery energy storage and microgrid controls to an existing 28 MW solar PV plant, under a power purchase agreement. Other energy efficiency and conservation measures also will be incorporated into the project by way of a utility energy services contract. 

In Massachusetts, the Army Natick Soldier System Center will use a microgrid to achieve energy cost savings through demand response and peak load management. The solar plus storage microgrid also will allow the base to island from the grid during a power outage and instead rely on its on-site resources for electricity

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany plans to combine energy efficiency with the installation of cybersecurity controls for building automation systems. The base expects the new measures, combined with an existing solar plus storage microgrid, to improve the facility’s energy efficiency, security, and resilience.

Several other facilities are incorporating solar plus storage, combined heat and power, energy efficiency and other measures to improve energy operations. The full list of projects is here.

“The goal of DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program is to help improve the energy efficiency of our federal partners in order to help them achieve their missions,” said Daniel Simmons, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. “With these selections, we are helping to improve the federal government’s economic, energy, and environmental performance through greater energy efficiency and energy resilience.”

Fly-wheel microgrid for homes wins solar funds

Separately, the DOE last week announced the winners of American-Made Solar Prize Round 3. One of the winners is an unusual home microgrid technology by Maxout Renewables of Livermore, California.

The team has createad a home microgrid powered by a fly-wheel and residential solar. Called the Evergrid, the microgrid overcomes a common problem associated with home solar that is connected to the grid — which is most home solar in the US. When the grid goes down, the solar panels stop producing power too. Evergrid keeps power flowing to from the solar panels to the home as long as the sun is shining.

The team says the appliance will be available for about $1,000, and will initially be sold in California, Florida and Puerto Rico.

Maxout Renewables expects support from the DOE program to take the Evergrid through testing and UL certification, and position it to raise investment funds. The team has set an aggressive goal to bring the appliance to market this year.

The team will receive a grand prize of $500,000 in cash and $75,000 in vouchers. The DOE created the $3 million American-Made Solar Prize to spur homegrown solar manufacturing.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

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