Commonwealth Edison and Illinois Tech to Create Experimental Microgrids

 

It was announced today that Commonwealth Edison and the Illinois Institute of Technology are partnering to create two microgrids that experiment with new technologies that could better provide electricity during severe weather events. The partnership is made possible with grants from the US Department of Energy.

The main purpose is to figure what will happen when two grids are connected as a cluster – and if that will help keep electricity flowing during adverse weather. According to utilitydive.com, the combined microgrids are expected to provide information and assistance to first responders and create a better understanding of how microgrids can be leveraged for emergency response.

A second grant of $4 million will add advanced solar and battery energy storage capacity to the cluster.

The site says the cluster grid would “alleviate the impacts of disruptive events, including a physical or cyber-attack targeting the grid, by sectionalizing power delivery into smaller segments and using localized control, allowing for continuous energy supply to critical facilities and customers connected to the microgrid.”

Microgrids have made headlines lately. In July, the Tooele Army Depot in Tooele, Utah, has announced it will install a 1MW/1MWh grid-tied battery storage system that will serve as a critical component of the facility’s self-sufficient microgrid, providing the depot with energy security and resiliency.

Also in July, the University of Bridgeport successfully installed a megawatt-class fuel cell microgrid on the school’s property.  The 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant makes the university grid independent. The micro-grid was tested by temporarily disconnecting the University from the electric grid with the fuel cell power plant shifting to a grid-independent operating mode and powering the school’s critical infrastructure, reverting back to grid interconnected status at the end of the test.

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