Microgrid Projects Underground, Overseas and on the Coast

July 30, 2014
Recent news about microgrid projects, funding and awards…

Recent news about microgrid projects, funding and awards….

Bury your microgrid?

New York has awarded $3.3 million for research into microgrids and other electric resiliency projects, among them an underground microgrid.

The underground microgrid will be at Clarkson University in Potsdam. The state awarded $381,000 for its design, being undertaken by a partnership that includes the university, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, National Grid, General Electric, SUNY Potsdam and other local businesses.

The microgrid will generate electricity for a number of entities in Potsdam, among them Clarkson and SUNY Potsdam, along with Canton-Potsdam Hospital and National Grid’s Potsdam Service Center. Potsam plans to build the microgrid because it has been susceptible to power outages during winter storms and flooding. The underground system would provide a localized source of power that would be more energy-efficient and resilient.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the funding July 23. Here are other microgrid projects on the list.

Con Edison, New York City ($2 million) to demonstrate gridlink,  a non-synchronous microgrid solution. Con Edison will partner with Pareto Energy and GE to investigate the use of Pareto’s GridLink technology to connect the Kings Plaza Shopping Mall in Brooklyn to Con Edison’s electrical networks. The project will sell excess power into the distribution grid and provide a variety of support services. The exportation of power during grid outages would provide electricity to specific places in the community, such as to gas stations, supermarkets, hotels or other vital services. The mall, which is already set up to function as a place of refuge during emergencies, could also provide power to other places of refuge for medical services, warming during a dangerous cold spell or cooling during a heat wave.

Cornell University, Ithaca ($227,000) — Advanced microgrid integration with distributed energy resources. The university will study potential innovative improvements to an existing campus microgrid. Sophisticated modeling will be used to explore ways to improve campus heating, cooling and generation by integrating smart building controls and adding on-site renewable energy sources and energy storage. The resulting configurations are expected to improve energy efficiency and reliability, demonstrating how distributed energy resources can be combined on a large campus. The system would be an integral part of Cornell’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for university operations to be “climate neutral” by 2050.

Rochester Institute of Technology ($78,000) to explore microgrid/utility relationships to improve economic and environmental cost and grid resilience. With microgrids growing increasingly popular among businesses, universities, hospitals and other large entities, the technology is a concern for local utilities. The added on-site power could cause power quality issues that could affect end-users on the same line. RIT seeks to improve energy grid flexibility by increasing the allowable “microgrid density.” RIT would develop controls for microgrids to effectively allow the cooperation between utilities and microgrids. For instance, it would take into account all power generated from distributed generation, energy storage, utilities and other sources without any power quality issues to customers.

SunEdison microgrids in rural India

SunEdison, one of the company’s that led the way in today’s US solar boom, is now installing microgrids in India. (The company pioneered early version of the solar power purchase agreement that made solar affordable for businesses.)

SunEdison plans to install 159 kW of solar photovoltaic microgrids with battery storage in six remote Indian villages. The microgrids are expected to bring electricity to 4,875 people who are now living off grid. The solar developer plans to transfer the facilities in five years to a public entity. It is working with the Government of India’s Rural Electrification Corporation  and the Madhya Pradesh Urja Vikas Nigam state agency.

“Solar is often the most practical solution in India’s remote areas and building micro-grids allows for scalability as the need grows,”  said Pashupathy Gopalan, president of SunEdison Asia Pacific, Middle East and South Africa. “The project isn’t just about economics, as part of our SunEdison Eradication of Darkness (SEED) initiative we take into account the long term social and environmental impact as well. We believe that a collaborative approach, where private enterprise works closely with the government sector, is a winning model for future solar development in the region.”

SunEdison will begin building the microgrids in September after the seasonal monsoon rains subside and plans to commission them by December.

Wind microgrid in Wright Bros. famous town

If you track microgrids, it’s easy to get the impression that they are all powered by solar and combined heat and power. Utility giant Dominion is reminding us there is also wind microgrids.

Dominion has built a microgrid to power its regional office in the ocean-side town of Kitty Hawk in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

The microgrid includes four wind turbines capable of generating 13 kW; ground-mounted solar panels that can generate 6 kW; and 75 kWh of battery storage. Dominion says the research project may be a prelude to developing similar technologies at other company locations.

It will serve as a way to educate the public about microgrids in the touristy town, made famous by aviation pioneers, the Wright Brothers. An onsite kiosk will give visitors an opportunity to monitor the performance of the system. Public kiosks also are available at Kitty Hawk Town Hall and at Kitty Hawk Elementary School.

Integrating CHP in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Commerce selected Microgrid Institute for a two-part project addressing combined heat and power stakeholder engagement in the state.

The project includes a pair of contracts to perform work that will assist the state in its efforts to develop a CHP Action Plan for the state. Microgrid Institute’s work under the contracts will include facilitating CHP stakeholder engagement meetings and performing a series of stakeholder surveys. Project deliverables will include survey results, reports, analysis, and recommendations, as well as a CHP Stakeholder Database and a CHP Education & Training plan.

The Division of Energy Resources awarded the contracts to Microgrid Institute as the result of two competitive RFPs announced in May. The microgrid project was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is the editor and founder of EnergyChangemakers.com. She is co-founder and former editor of Microgrid Knowledge.

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