For many in the energy industry, the term “microgrid” is the next, new thing. For members of the International District Energy Association (IDEA), it’s a new term for a familiar approach the organization has fostered for over 105 years: district energy.
IDEA’s 27th Annual Campus Energy Conference, titled, “Clean, Efficient & Resilient Energy,” will take place at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, February 18-21. A pre-conference workshop will focus on design, permitting, economics and optimization of microgrids for campuses, communities and industry.
“Since SuperStorm Sandy hammered the East Coast in October 2012, and many district energy microgrids maintained operations while the grid was down, we have seen a dramatic increase in interest for the resiliency benefits of district energy and combined heat and power,” says Rob Thornton, president & CEO of IDEA.
This year’s two-and-one-half day conference will offer about 60 different panels, workshops, tours and information sessions. A range of district energy topics will be covered in addition to microgrid, among them combined heat and power, thermal distribution, sustainable cooling, infrastructure, finance and asset valuation, automation and controls, water conservation, metering and monitoring, tech innovation and regulations.
The conference is expected to draw around 600 representatives from colleges, universities, hospitals, local governments and military facilities, along with district energy developers, operators and technology experts. IDEA purposely limits the size of the conference to foster collegiality and peer exchange. The program includes several networking events and a trade show of over 80 business partner organizations and technology providers.
Thornton described the conference setting as “highly collaborative.” Attendees will have opportunities to hear firsthand from others about what’s worked for them – as well as what hasn’t – in developing, operating and optimizing district energy systems. “For years, as people have been searching for effective microgrids, the best working examples are at IDEA member institutions like Princeton, UT Austin, UNC Chapel Hill, etc. They are happy to share their experience to help others.”
“The case studies are not just testimonials,” Thornton said. “This event is about helping, collaborating and solving problems.” There is a special industry announcement planned and the conference will also feature a “Microgrid Meet Up” to allow one-on-one discussion among experienced industry practitioners.
Past attendees have said their facilities saved millions of dollars from information gleaned at the conference about fuel purchasing strategies, water reclamation, emission reduction technologies, and energy efficiency measures, Thornton said.
More information and registration is available here.