Mesa Solutions serves a variety of customers from utilities to end use customers, but there is one common theme between them all. According to Malcolm Taylor, resilient power solutions engineer for Mesa Solutions, they’re all looking for a resilient power solution that fits their economic and business needs.
Taylor recently sat down with Elisa Wood, editor-in-chief of Microgrid Knowledge, for a quick chat about why the concept of resiliency-as-a-service is growing in popularity across Mesa’s customer base.
Taylor said that Mesa is focused on helping customers define what their business needs in terms of resiliency – and then providing a solution around those needs.
“Is their load very critical in nature? Do they have a lot of process in flow to where that power outage creates havoc on their economics?” According to Taylor, these are the types of questions Mesa asks when they take on a new project.
The next evolution: resilience-as-a-service
Microgrids are well-known for their ability to provide resilience. When the microgrid controller senses a grid outage, it automatically switches to a local power source such as a natural gas generator, solar array, or battery storage. Commonly called “islanding,” this switch between power sources is seamless.
Resiliency-as-a-service takes that concept one step further. Under this business model, companies like Mesa Solutions essentially manage the microgrid for the end user, providing the customer with reliable electricity should there be a grid outage. The microgrid company takes care of everything, freeing the customer to focus on their business, not the electricity powering their business.
Taylor described a new resiliency-as-a-service project that Mesa was getting ready to commission in Texas. Mesa is providing the natural gas generator as well as the switch gear.
“It has all the connectivity that we need on it to be able to talk into the ERCOT market and receive dispatch signals,” Taylor said.
Resilience for the customer and the grid
According to Taylor, perhaps the most unique part of the Texas project is that the microgrid will be able to dispatch generation when the market value for the energy is at a premium. In other words, when the grid is stressed, the microgrid can island the facility, reducing demand and stabilizing the grid. Or, it can send excess power to the grid, increasing electricity supply to stabilize the grid.
For example, a large rooftop solar array can power the facility when it’s needed, and the “excess capacity that we've got through our power course can provide resiliency through the neighboring network as well,” Taylor explained.
Taylor went on to say that what this model does is it gives “whoever's managing the territory the ability to scale up their power demand and increase reliability on their grid system, putting off huge capital investments” that would otherwise be needed to upgrade utility infrastructure.
It’s also a way to hedge against market volatility and levelized costs for utility customers, Taylor pointed out.
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