Most of what’s in a microgrid is easily recognizable, common components like distributed generators, batteries and inverters. What’s unique is the software, the brains of the system.
So it’s not surprising that competing companies are working to advance and distinguish the technology that manages a microgrid. Schneider Electric is the latest to announce enhancements, an upgrade of its EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor.
The global power management company has added several features to the cloud-based, demand-side management platform. Among other things, it now offers more flexible and dynamic management of distributed energy resources, according to the company’s product announcement.
EcoStruxure also now includes hour-ahead utility pricing, off-grid preparedness, flexible demand charge limits, CHP and thermal views, cybersecurity upgrades, customer chat functionality, and automatic user interface updates
“Today’s facility managers demand innovative tools that make energy management simple, efficient and reliable. These enhanced features further empower EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor customers to optimize their energy spend by providing a comprehensive view of their grid operations, and offering data insights and grid control that lets users make sophisticated choices about how to manage their grid,” said Mark Feasel, Schneider’s vice president, utility segment, smart grid & microgrid.
EcoStruxure was designed to simplify the integration of distributed energy and allow facility managers and microgrid operators to collect, forecast and automatically optimize the operation of onsite resources using real-time data and predictive machine learning algorithms.
This allows customers to adapt the microgrid’s control strategy to optimize generation – use it most efficiently depending on customers’ goals and other factors. The platform integrates with the Schneider Electric Energy Control Center, managing communications among the microgrid’s various distributed energy resources via an interactive web interface.
EcoStruxure upgrades detailed
- Dynamic demand charge threshold helps customers automatically adjust and optimize their demand charge limit and perform peak shaving accordingly to avoid costly utility charges.
- Day ahead and H-1 pricing allows customers to consume or produce energy at the most opportune time based on daily or hourly utility rates, which reduces the risk associated with variable electricity tariff pricing.
- Storm Hardening Mode allows customers to monitor detailed weather forecasts to anticipate incoming severe storms and take the site out of Optimization Mode if needed. Customers can charge batteries, pre-lube generation, change HVAC set-point or pre-island the site to keep their facility online regardless of a utility power disruption.
- Customers can optimize their use of distributed generation, such as gas generators and PV, by charging batteries during over production to ensure maximal use of resources without exporting energy to the grid.
- CHP and thermal view lets customers monitor their CHP systems for thermal efficiency and performance while in utility connected or island mode.
- Customer chat functionality allows customers to contact EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor support professionals via the in-platform chat box and receive fast, reliable customer support.
- Automatic platform user interface updates offer greater real-time visibility into customer energy operations without having to refresh screens or continually log into the platform.
- Cybersecurity upgrades protect sites from external cybersecurity threats through Tomcat 8 virtual servers with double proxy management and outgoing-only communications of data to Microsoft Azure servers.
The upgrade will be done automatically for new and existing EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor customers. Users of the platform can request updates based on their individual project needs.
To offer a look at EcoStruxure in action, Schneider is hosting a tour of its Boston One Campus as part of Microgrid 2017, which will be held Nov. 6-8 at Boston’s Park Plaza. The facility, which serves as Schneider’s North American headquarters, includes a working microgrid that Schneider built in partnership with Duke Energy Renewables. REC Solar, a Duke company, owns the Boston One Campus microgrid system and its solar array, and sells its power to Schneider Electric through a long-term power purchase agreement.
Schneider installed the microgrid not only to bring greater electric reliability to the facility, but also to experience its technology and business model as its customers would. Schneider’s microgrid-as-a-service business model allows customers to build a microgrid without any upfront capital cost.
Registration is now underway for Microgrid 2017 and the Schneider Boston One Campus tour. Microgrid 2017 is sponsored by Microgrid Knowledge, the International District Energy Association and the Microgrid Resources Coalition.
Track news about Microgrid 2017 on Twitter @Microgridevents.