Siemens Introduces New Microgrid Controller for Smaller Projects

Jan. 24, 2018
Siemens Digital Grid this week introduced a new microgrid controller designed for small scale distributed energy projects, in keeping with the rise of solar plus storage microgrids.

Siemens Digital Grid this week introduced a new microgrid controller, designed for small scale distributed energy projects, in keeping with the rise of solar plus storage microgrids.

Mike Carlson, president of Siemens Digital Grid, North America

The new controller — the brain of the microgrid — serves demand for simpler microgrids, often characterized as having fewer generation sources and a smaller number of buildings to serve, perhaps only one.

The rise in simpler microgrids comes with the falling prices of solar and battery energy storage, which put renewable microgrids in reach of a greater number of businesses, institutions and communities. They may seek out microgrids to improve their electric reliability, and not necessarily undertake complex energy management tasks.

Siemens already offers a microgrid controller for larger, more complex systems. Now with the two controllers on the market, the company says it can help customers of any size embrace the growing decentralized energy market.

Learn more about the evolving microgrid industry at Microgrid 2018

“A few years ago, the only microgrid systems coming online were relatively large. But as decentralized energy technologies continue to become more mainstream, we see customers ranging from an industrial plant to a university looking to install their own microgrids,” said Mike Carlson, president of Siemens Digital Grid, North America. “Our goal with this portfolio is to offer the industry’s most advanced microgrid control software that allows everyone, from a large city to a single hospital, to manage and reap the benefits of decentralized energy systems.”

Microgrid controllers are a key design feature within a microgrid, giving it the intelligence to perform a range of functions. These include islanding from the central electric grid during a power outage, so that microgrid customers will continue to receive power via onsite generators. Controllers also can be programmed to help companies or institutions meet various goals, such as achieving lowest cost, managing renewable energy or reducing emissions.

Siemens describes a range of capabilities its controllers offer to increase reliability and minimize cost. This includes planning power generation based on energy market price forecasts on a 15-minute, hourly, or up to day-ahead increments.  As a result, customers can gain full economic value from the microgrid while maintaining their traditional base load energy needs. The Siemens controller also can minimize carbon footprint by employing renewable energy or other clean fuels.

In less demanding applications, a microgrid controller may offer islanding, detection and integration of renewable assets.

Blue Lake Rancheria, a Native American reservation in Northern California, offers an example of Siemens microgrid controller technology in action. The microgrid powers critical infrastructure and saves the reservation an estimated $200,000 per year, while reducing 150 tons carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Learn more about microgrid controller capabilities by downloading, “How Microgrids Can Achieve Maximum Return on Investment (ROI): The Role of the Advanced Microgrid Controller,” free of charge from the Microgrid Knowledge Whitepaper Library.

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.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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