The Grid Optimization Software that’s Music to Our Ears and Other Quick Microgrid News

Feb. 19, 2016
In this week’s microgrid news…Paterson, N.J. considering a microgrid…Boeing delivers first-of-kind fuel cell to Navy…community solar trade group forms…new software orchestrates DER

This week’s Quick Microgrid News…

Paterson, New Jersey, Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres wants to build a microgrid at the Great Falls. As reported by the Paterson Times, Mayor Torres pitched the idea to Governor Chris Christie’s cabinet members at the Mayors’ Legislative Day in Trenton earlier this month. Microgrids offer a way to mitigate grid disturbances during storms like Hurricane Sandy, safeguarding communities against power outages.

The Great Falls currently has a hydroelectric power plant, owned by the city, at the base of the waterfall which generates 10,950-kilowatts/hour.

“We want to make the Great Falls and the power it unleashes every hour, every day the centerpiece of a state-of-the-art microgrid that can bring clean, renewable and reliable power to our city and our state,” Torres said, in the article.

Torres said the microgrid would power the greater Great Falls Historic District and a renovated Hinchliffe Stadium. The state board of public utilities’ president accepted an invitation to visit the city and assess the viability of a microgrid project.

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Aerospace tech provider Boeing has delivered a fuel cell energy storage system to the U.S. Navy for testing. The system is the first of its kind, using “reversible” solid oxide fuel cell technology to both store energy from renewable resources (including wind and solar), and produce clean, zero-emissions electricity by consuming stored hydrogen.

The system generates, compresses and stores hydrogen. When the grid demands power, it operates as a fuel cell, consuming the stored hydrogen to produce electricity. The technology is unique in being able to both store energy and produce electricity in a single system, making the technology “reversible.”

“This fuel cell solution is an exciting new technology providing our customers with a flexible, affordable and environmentally progressive option for energy storage and power generation,” said Lance Towers, director, Advanced Technology Programs.

This first unit was commissioned on the Southern California Edison power grid at Boeing’s Huntington Beach, Calif. facility before being installed for further testing on the Navy’s microgrid at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center in Port Hueneme, Calif.

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Why not share? The U.S. Department of Energy reports that shared solar could represent as much as 49 percent of the distributed PV market by 2020. The nation’s leading community solar developer, the Clean Energy Collective (CEC), estimates the market size for community-owned solar at more than 150 million customers: seven times larger than the maximum market potential for onsite solar.

The CEC is a founding member of a new national trade organization, the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA)which will advocate — on behalf of consumers, utilities, and developers — its mission of expanding access to clean, local, affordable energy through community solar. Other founding members include Community Energy, EcoPlexus, Ethical Electric, First Solar, and Recurrent Energy.

“We took a lead role in crafting this coalition because community solar is poised to serve a large percentage of electricity customers throughout the country, and working together we can help accelerate this industry’s growth and assure this potential is achieved,” said Paul Spencer, CEC’s founder and CEO.

The CCSA hope to advance access to shared solar by educating policy makers, community leaders, clean energy advocates, and the public about fair policy, regulatory frameworks, and best practices.

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Enbala Power Networks released Symphony by Enbala, a software platform that networks renewable generation, energy storage, demand response resources, substation capacitors and other assets into the grid. It monitors, forecasts, orchestrates (get it?) and optimizes the operations of these assets. Symphony includes a real-time optimization engine that tracks and updates network states every two seconds based on continual communications from each connected asset. Updates specify availability, capacity, ramp rate, output and consumption.

Grid optimization is more than improvement, notes President and CEO Bud Vos. “Optimization utilizes reliable and immediate communications across the entire grid network, along with models of how assets perform under different conditions. The economic value of Symphony by Enbala derives from the forecasting, simulation and execution routines that operators can run across the entire grid network to use assets when they are most valuable.”

Power providers can gain a new level of insight into grid conditions through real-time solutions, and new interfaces for operators and customers provide real-time asset tracking, geospatial mapping, system performance monitoring, as well as alerts and notifications.

Follow news from Microgrid Knowledge on Twitter @MicrogridNews.

About the Author

Cara Goman

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