Do Microgrids Hold the Key to Grid Stability?

September 15, 2015 By Karen Henry

home microgrid Energy ManageTypically, power sources that can work independently of the electric grid are viewed as a competitive threat to utility companies. Community-based microgrids, and their potential to provide grid resiliency in response to a severe weather event or other emergency, are beginning to change that.

An article in Wind Power Engineering and Development outlines a number of microgrid developments that could provide utilities with improved stability and resilience.

Perhaps the most publicized is the integration of SolarCity’s solar system with Tesla’s home energy storage battery. Others are testing the idea of community microgrids as well.

  • General Electric (GE) and several partners are developing an Enhanced Microgrid Control System (eMCS). The system is being tested in the Village of Potsdam in northern New York. In the event Potsdam’s grid power is disrupted, the system can power the village for as long as two weeks.
  • Vestas Wind has partnered with ABB to combine its re-furbished wind turbines with ABB’s microgrid power-stabilization system. The partnership is currently focused on providing off-grid electricity to remote African communities, but it could be duplicated in other, similar locations.
  • Hatch Engineering has designed a microgrid control system for Tugliq Energy’s five-year pilot project in the Arctic. The program is testing wind power integration with diesel, lithium-ion, hydrogen and flywheel energy storage in harsh, Arctic conditions.
  • California’s Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria is working with JLM Energy to deploy a 30-kW microgrid supported by a 100-kW PV solar system and 20 wind turbines.

Photo via Shutterstock

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