ABB Microgrid to Integrate Wind and Solar on Aruba

June 23, 2017
Aruba plans to install an ABB microgrid to integrate the island’s renewables, a feat accomplished by a microgrid’s controller or ‘brain.’

Aruba plans to install an ABB microgrid to integrate the island’s renewables, a feat accomplished by a microgrid’s controller or ‘brain.’

Microgrids are increasingly being deployed for this purpose in places, like Aruba, that are striving to make renewables a greater part of their mix.

The Dutch Caribbean island wants to reduce use of fossil fuels and make renewables 50 percent of its mix by 2020. It now relies largely on an oil-fired generation plant, and to a lesser degree wind and solar.

Advanced microgrid intelligence helps balance the variable output of renewable energy. This allows utility grids to overcome the downside of solar and wind energy — they only generate power when the wind blows or sun shines.

The ABB microgrid forecasts both renewable output and system needs over a 24-hour period. The microgrid software then adjusts power dispatch to accommodate changes in renewable output, generation availability and customer demand.

Aruba’s public utility, WEB Aruba, has additional challenges, as well, that make microgrid intelligence valuable.

For example, the island’s demand for energy has been growing. The year-round population, typically 103,000 inhabitants, swells to over 1.5 million with the arrival of tourists. As a result, the island has a significant peak demand for electricity, 134 MW, which can strain the island’s energy resources.

The microgrid’s advanced control system helps reduce the strain through dynamic load shedding. When demand taxes the system, the microgrid calculates what areas of the system are non-essential and reduces flow of power to these sites. So when “major system transients” come into play, the microgrid immediately calculates what load or service to shed to stabilize frequency, according to ABB. It also ensures that no critical facilities lose power.

View this video to learn more about the ABB microgrid in Aruba.

“This innovative microgrid solution will support the island of WEB Aruba to integrate more renewables and maintain reliability and efficiency of power supplies to meet increasing demand for electricity,”  said Massimo Danieli, head of ABB’s Grid Automation business, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. “The embedded software, automation and control technologies will also facilitate 24 hour forecasts and enable a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”

ABB has installed about 40 microgrids worldwide, across a diverse range of applications serving remote communities, islands, utilities and industrial campuses.

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 RealEnergyWriters.com, 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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