Buildings and microgrids

Buildings with a Smart Microgrid

Sept. 1, 2016
Studying the various factors that impact the energy consumption of buildings is key and can lead to mechanisms to reduce their energy use and improve the overall efficiency of a microgrid.

A ‘smart microgrid’ refers to a distribution network for electrical energy, starting from electricity generation to its transmission and storage with the ability to respond to dynamic changes in energy supply through co-generation and demand adjustments. At the scale of a small town, a microgrid is connected to the wide-area electrical grid that may be used for ‘baseline’ energy supply; or in the extreme case only as a storage system in a completely self-sufficient microgrid. Distributed generation, storage and intelligence are key components of a smart microgrid. In this paper, we examine the significant role that buildings play in energy use and its management in a smart microgrid. In particular, we discuss the relationship that IT equipment has on energy usage by buildings, and show that control of various building subsystems (such as IT and HVAC) can lead to significant energy savings. Using the UCSD as a prototypical smart microgrid, we discuss how buildings can be enhanced and interfaced with the smart microgrid, and demonstrate the benefits that this relationship can bring as well as the challenges in implementing this vision.