Microgrids are ideal solutions for businesses and organizations looking to keep the power on, particularly in California where increased wildfire risks are leading to a growing number of public safety power shutoffs. A new white paper from Mainspring Energy compares the economic and environmental impact of four different microgrid technology solutions, including linear generators, to help commercial customers understand which type of firm generation is best for their situation.
The analysis in the paper, which was originally done for a school and a supermarket in Napa, California, looks at a solar-based microgrid when paired with either a backup generator, battery energy storage, a fuel cell or a Mainspring linear generator. “Mainspring’s linear generators are dispatchable, with the ability to ramp output up and down, and are fuel flexible, with the ability to dynamically switch between natural gas, renewable natural gas, propane or hydrogen,” according to the paper.
The goal of the comparison outlined in the paper was to illustrate which of these configurations can “feasibly and reliably deliver power during a 72-hour grid outage.” The authors also looked at the costs and benefits of each, as well as the environmental impacts of the various technologies. According to the paper, the technologies analyzed are “plausible microgrid technology configurations that are either being actively pursued or installed by customers or are under consideration for various state policies including in the California legislature and at the CPUC.”
“The economic results of this white paper clearly demonstrate the economic infeasibility of providing reliable microgrid power for a multiday (72-hr.) period using only solar + battery storage. Instead, some type of firm generation is needed that can dispatch for prolonged periods of time without running out of charge.” –Mainspring Energy, “The Role of Firming Generation in Microgrids“
The authors conclude that Mainspring’s new linear generator technology, when used in conjunction with a solar-based microgrid, “is the most economic configuration and also provides increased emission savings relative to the solar + backup generator configuration.”