Black & Veatch Microgrid Begins Operating in Kansas’ Largest Office Building

April 29, 2015
The Black & Veatch microgrid began operating this week in Kansas’ largest office facility, the comipany’s headquarters.

Black & Veatch headquarters. Credit: Taylor Sloan

The Black & Veatch microgrid began officially operating this week in Kansas’ largest office facility, the company’s headquarters.

The 200-kW microgrid is the first to be commissioned in a commercial building in the state.

The microgrid can power all of the Rodman Innovation Pavilion, a 12,600-square-foot centerpiece of the headquarter’s recent $60 million renovation. In all, the microgrid can provide 12.5 percent of the office building’s electricity.

The Black & Veatch microgrid also contributes some of the power for 45 electric vehicle charging stations.

Black & Veatch plans to operate the microgrid in conjunction with the grid; the microgrid also is capable of islanding.

Four different energy sources contribute to the microgrid: natural gas, solar, geothermal and battery storage.

The microgrid also acts as a source of heating for the building. During winter months, it recovers heat from the microturbines to warm the headquarters.  A geothermal heat pump system with 15 wells drilled 500 feet deep helps heat and cool the pavilion, as well.

Black & Veatch has been conducting tours of the facility; guests can interact with a large screen display that shows the microgrid operations in real time.

ASSET360, Black & Veatch’s cloud based analytics platform, continually monitors the microgrid.  The platform collects data from the system and monitors the performance of each component based on  such factors as solar radiation, cloud cover and outside temperature. It also calculates how much energy is being generated and used in the building. This provides the company’s energy experts with insights on ways to improve system operations.

“The new microgrid allows Black & Veatch to demonstrate technologies that have strong interest from global clients wanting some combination of greater electric resiliency, control and sustainability,” said Dean Oskvig, president and CEO of Black & Veatch’s energy business. “Integrating and operating these technologies first hand helps us more effectively serve clients pursuing those objectives. Over time, we can demonstrate how such systems can successfully integrate into the grid.”

The microgrid’s features include:

  • Three rooftop solar photovoltaic panel groups—monocrystalline, polycrystalline and AC modules that use micro inverters. They provide 50 kW at peak output.
  •  Two natural gas-fired microturbines that deliver 130 kW
  • A 100-kWh lithium-ion battery for energy storage, which can capture energy from the generation sources and deliver the electricity to the headquarters during times of high electric demand, such as in the summer months.
  • A meteorological station on the building that collects information on PV module temperature conditions that influence solar panel output. The station also provides information on solar radiation, wind speed and precipitation.

More details about the Kansas microgrid are available on You Tube.

Black & Veatch’s announcement comes just two weeks after Oncor also unveiled a new microgrid project; the sophisticated Texas project features four inter-related microgrids with nine sources of generation.

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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.

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