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.
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.