Schneider Electric Pairing EcoStruxure Microgrid Line with MainSpring's Flex-Fuel Linear Generator

March 21, 2024
The EcoStruxure Microgrid offering is aimed squarely at commercial and industrial customers. Mainspring’s generator offers fuel flexibility and resiliency, the companies say.

Schneider Electric is taking another step in its focus on standardized microgrids by announcing a new partnership with gen-set maker Mainspring Energy.

French-based global energy management firm Schneider Electric, which first announced its new EcoStruxure Microgrid Flex offering last year at the 2023 Microgrid Knowledge Conference in Anaheim, is combining its solution with Mainspring’s Linear Generator. The partnership was announced at CeraWeek in Houston on Wednesday.

The EcoStruxure Microgrid offering is aimed squarely at commercial and industrial customers. Mainspring’s generator offers fuel flexibility and resiliency, the companies say.

“Commercial and industrial facilities are dealing with increasing demands for electricity,” Bala Vinayagam, senior vice president for the microgrid line of business at Schneider Electric, said in a statement.

“At the same time, organizations needing power have decarbonization goals,” Vinayagam added. “The Mainspring Linear Generator has the potential to serve a vital role in the transition to net zero. Customers are provided with a pioneering microgrid solution that can generate on-site power, adapt to an evolving grid landscape, and help them meet their decarbonization goals.”

California-based Mainspring Energy launched the Linear Generator commercially in 2020. The equipment reportedly enables high expansion of reacted gases at relatively low temperatures and can convert linear motion into electricity. The low temperature, reactive technology is designed to keep NOx emissions at nearly zero levels.

The ignition-free, fuel-flexible system reportedly can ramp quickly while running on gas, biogas, green ammonia, or hydrogen. Pacific Gas & Electric, Lineage Logistics and NextEra Energy Resources are among the early customers for the generator.

Mainspring Energy won the BloombergNEF (New Energy Finance) Pioneers Award last year for its generator work to accelerate deployment of clean hydrogen. The company’s cofounders began development of linear generator technology nearly 20 years ago at Stanford University’s Advanced Energy Systems Laboratory.

The Standardized Approach to Bring Microgrid Costs Down

Schneider Electric’s business plan argues that a standardized, modular approach to microgrid development can overcome long interconnection queue delays and bring costs down somewhat.

Despite their promising ability to provide a bridge at the confluence of sustainability and resiliency, the nearly 700 microgrids nationwide only provide about 0.3% of U.S. electricity, Jana Gerber, North American microgrid president at Schneider Electric, pointed out in a recent perspectives article for Microgrid Knowledge.

The complexity of DERs can prove inordinately expensive, with microgrid projects often costing between $2 million and $4 million per MW, well above normal centralized power generation levelized costs.

“However, through standardization and emerging financial models like energy-as-a-service, organizations can harness the power of microgrids without incurring cost overruns,” Gerber wrote.

About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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