Utility and IT Giants to Develop Microgrid Testbed

March 29, 2015
A group of major utility and information technology companies are joining forces on a microgrid testbed project designed to tackle the problem of renewable energy variability.

Credit: Ian Prowell

A group of major utility and information technology companies are joining forces on a microgrid testbed project designed to tackle the problem of renewable energy variability.

The Industrial Internet Consortium has brought together Duke Energy, Southern California Edison, CPS Energy, Cisco, National Instruments and Real-Time Innovations to work on the project, with installations in both California and Texas. The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) also will participate.

Called the Communication and Control Testbed for Microgrid Applications, the project will use architectural innovation to try to overcome a major grid inefficiency: the need to install excess power capacity to compensate for renewable energy variability.

Join the discussion with microgrid leaders on our LinkedIn Group, Microgrid Knowledge.

The project envisions a re-architecting of electric power grids to include a series of grid-connected microgrids, which will control smaller areas of demand with distributed generation and energy storage.

The project will introduce real-time analytics and control to ensure that generation more accurately and reliably matches demand.

“Analytics and controls are essential for a successful energy transition, addressing limited scalability and renewables, siloed networks, rigid controls and slow human intervention,” said Kip Compton, VP/GM, Internet of Things Systems and Software Group, Cisco

The framework will be developed in three phases that will culminate in a field deployment at CPS Energy’s “Grid-of-the-Future” microgrid test area in San Antonio, Texas.

The initial phase, a proof-of-concept that ensures basic security and performance, will be conducted in Southern California Edison’s Controls Lab, beginning in April 2015. Phase Two, slated for 2016 also at the SCE lab,  will demonstrate the scalability of the communication and control framework in a simulated environment. The final phase in Texas will demonstrate the testbed in a real-world situation.

“SCE’s Controls Lab houses one of the only fully simulated grid environments in North America,” said Andy Paylan, lead engineer of SCE’s Advanced Technology group. “Our labs test many grid technologies in various phases of the development cycle and it will serve the consortium well for the communication and control testbed to go through simulations in the control lab before technology is deployed on the grid.”

The testbed participants will work closely with Duke Energy, which recently published a distributed intelligence reference architecture. SGIP will help ensure a coordinated, accepted architecture, based on modern, cross-industry industrial internet technologies.

This is the first energy-focused testbed to be undertaken by the Industrial Internet Consortium.

“The smart grid is a critical infrastructure component of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT),” said Stan Schneider, RTI’s CEO. “The IIoT will span industries, sensor to cloud, power to factory, and road to hospital. This key first step will address a significant barrier to the efficient use of green energy.”

Track microgrid testbeds as they are announced by subscribing to our free newsletter, Microgrid Knowledge.

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.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

Facebook:  Microgrids


Design for Purpose Microgrids – Water and Wastewater

Nov. 3, 2023
Michael Boswell, vice president, power & infrastructure at Concord Engineering discusses microgrid designs for water and wastewater.

Get the full report.

Think Like a Financier to Win Funding for Your Microgrid Project

Get the new special report that lays out how investors and other financiers think about energy projects. The aim is to help move a microgrid from the drawing board to reality ...