DoD Tests Energy Continuity with ‘Islanded’ Microgrid

The U.S. Department of  Defense announced on April 4 that it planned to conduct a microgrid demonstration under the auspices of the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) at Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta, Michigan, often used by the National Guard.

The project will “island” a microgrid from the utility grid in order to ensure that, when needed in response to a variety of emergencies, the microgrid would provide power availability, energy resilience, distributed generation management, and demand response, while contributing to the critical power needs of nearby military installations.

Specifically, ESTCP funded the project to demonstrate the ability of microgrids to maintain continuity of critical power resources during extended outages.

The initiative also will showcase the potential for actively shared resources between Fort Custer, a federally owned and state-operated Michigan Army National Guard training facility, and nearby federal facilities. Throughout the demonstration, advanced microgrid control features – such as automated power quality management, real-time response to grid conditions, and control of energy storage assets – will be evaluated.

Valencia, California-based Electricore will lead the project. Electricore is a nonprofit organization established in 1993 at the request of the DoD’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It represents a unique consortium among private and public sector organization, federal agencies, corporation, small business, universities, and research institutions –seeking “to address the tough issues facing our nation by building world-class teams and conducting ground-breaking programs.”

It also will be supported by power management solutions provider Eaton and regulated utility Consumers Energy; and hosted by the Michigan Army National Guard.

“The microgrid project at Fort Custer will help the Department of Defense establish a replicable model for reducing the overall cost to implement energy surety goals in sites where bases are closely located,” said William Murch, director of Service for Eaton’s Microgrid Energy Systems business.

Eaton’s Electrical Engineering Services and Systems team will provide all necessary turnkey engineering services and power management solutions, including:

  • Equipment upgrades;
  • Installation of additional energy storage and natural gas generation resources; and
  • Implementation of microgrid control and communication components.

The project will also incorporate Eaton’s Power Xpert Energy Optimizer controller, which is engineered to help customers deploy stand-alone power systems using existing and new assets. Eaton says the controller “provides a modular, scalable and repeatable approach to microgrid control.”

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