What is a Microgrid?
If you have electricity generation capabilities, storage and an electric load, you have the makings of a microgrid. The remaining component is intelligent control, which allows your microgrid to operate in parallel with the grid, or independently of it.
Microgrids provide backup power during electric grid failure and add grid resilience. Operating with a microgrid gives you the power to choose how you consume energy. EnerG3 will make sure you take advantage of the financial incentives that come with microgrids.
Examples of Microgrids
Solar PV generation with battery storage and an islanding inverter.
Natural gas CHP system with electric islanding mode controller.
Combination of wind turbines, solar PV, CHP grid interconnection controller.
You can get to your microgrid in stages. You could start with a solar PV system, add battery storage, then add an advanced controller, or take various other incremental steps to get to your desired system implementation.
Self Generation Technologies
Any energy source, renewable or traditional, that allows you to generate electricity for your own consumption may be used as energy source in a microgrid. Examples include:
Solar PV: These systems can provide attractive returns when integrated with a facility’s roof structure, based on converting sunshine into electrical energy. Subject to the availability of sunlight, these environmentally friendly systems are most effective when combined with storage devices.
Wind Turbines: Better suited to grid-scale deployments than building integration, these environmentally friendly systems convert wind into electrical energy and are dependent on favorable wind regimes and wide open spaces.
Combined Heat and Power systems powered by natural or biogas. These highly efficient systems utilize both the thermal and electrical energy generated by running natural gas-based generating equipment. Fuelled via underground pipelines, these systems have proved to be more resilient during extreme weather events than power from the electric grid, and are environmentally far less harmful than grid-based electricity usage.
While storage systems typically evoke the word “battery”, there are alternatives that may make sense based on the application. Compressed air, pumped hydro, molten salts, hydrogen and many other technologies are available. However, battery systems show the most near-term potential. Three technologies prevail and each has its niche.
Lead Acid Batteries: These systems are well known and relatively inexpensive but don’t cycle well and demonstrate poor depth of discharge.
Lithium Ion Batteries: These are sprinters, typically utilized for high-power, short duration applications. For example, power demand backup for a brief production drop when clouds cover the sun over a solar PV system. They cycle better than lead acid systems and provide a better depth of discharge.
Flow Batteries: These are marathon runners. Relatively new technology demonstrating great potential for long duration applications – such as countering the “duck curve” phenomenon and reducing or replacing fossil fuel generators.
Hybrid systems may be built by combining a lead acid or lithium ion battery with flow technology, to allow the best of both worlds by providing a short-duration, high power punch with long duration endurance.
The Microgrid Controller
The controller brings it all together and makes those critical financial and operational decisions about when it’s best to import, when to export, when to charge or discharge, and when to isolate from or run in parallel with the grid.
Interested in learning more about how a microgrid could work for you?
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