Microgrids are often built as customized, one-off projects. Concern exists that the industry cannot scale under this model, and prices will remain out of reach for many smaller facilities, such as farms. At Microgrid 2018 in Chicago, Craig Wooster, project manager and general contractor for the Stone Edge Farm Microgrid Project, unveiled a new microgrid system that overcomes this problem and can be largely installed in a day.
Stone Edge Farm sits on a campus of 16 acres, including 16 buildings and seven utility electrical service meter entries. There are three 480-volt, 3-phase and four 240-volt, split-phase services. And there are 58 electrical service panels in the system. Wooster and his team have now internally connected the seven metered services together within the walls as an islandable electrical grid.
The Stone Edge Farm microgrid was noted for its performance during the California wildfires last year, and received an additional accolade this spring — California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA).
Jorge Elizondo, microgrid engineer at Heila Technologies, explained later in the presentation that system integration is the biggest barrier to microgrid adoption today — and, of course, customization increases deployment time and cost.
But what if the industry took a building-block approach to microgrid construction? Using this design, Elizondo pointed out you could add or remove elements seamlessly by using a self-adaptable dispatch logic.
Elizondo also shared a microgrid “building-block creator,” which is made up of four elements:
- Technology Agnostic: Compatible with most industry standard protocols and interfaces, and capable of interfacing with any vendor
- Open-Source: Allow users to safely build new functionalities on top of its existing code
- Multi-energy: Encapsulate the microgrid complexity behind sophisticated and robust algorithms by exploiting analogies
- “Selfish” operation: Each asset tries to maximize its own profits, inside a well-designed, game-theoretical framework.
Download the full presentation from Microgrid 2018 to learn more about how repeatable, scalable microgrid construction could open the doors to microgrid adoption.