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Microgrids: Clean Energy Basics Vol. 1

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A microgrid is a self-contained energy system that can disconnect entirely from the main electricity grid. This allows it to operate autonomously without facing the disruptions that affect the larger energy systems when we have outages. Microgrids can be powered by a variety of modern energy sources, and can be more cost effective, reliable and resilient than relying on the local energy grid. Microgrids are often used in smaller communities or industrial production facilities, where a limited number of customers and buildings are powered by localized energy generation.

Key takeaways

  • Microgrids are self-contained energy systems that disconnect from the larger power grid
  • They can be powered by a variety of sources, ranging from distributed energy resources to batteries
  • Microgrids are often used in small communities or industrial sites to power local operations 

Microgrids, how do they work?

Microgrids are autonomously operating energy systems that maintain control of a power supply in a specified geographic area. These areas are sometimes industrial production sites such as large manufacturing plants or small local communities. They are used to ensure a reliable supply of electricity in a region where volatility and issues are occurring outside of the microgrid. 

Microgrids can be powered by a wide range of sources that might normally power parts of a wider energy system. These are often renewable generation sources such as solar panels, wind power, geothermal and nowadays, energy storage devices, and even electric vehicles which can inject energy from their batteries into the grid, among other sources of power. Large, centralized energy sources lose a significant amount of power during transmission; microgrids allow for a larger conservation of power and efficiency of energy usage from a closer source of generation. 

As part of the larger energy system, microgrids have the ability to integrate themselves into the wider grid, as well as function autonomously. This allows for a connection when it’s beneficial to the grid, but also a disconnect when the main grid isn’t functioning optimally. This last point is particularly relevant during weather events and emergencies that affect the grid.

Having a microgrid in your local community might benefit you significantly. By having a local power source that is independent of the wider grid, major outages on the grid are unlikely to affect your local geographic area. Furthermore, Microgrids can help lower your costs because of the efficient power transfer from local sources. 

Further Reading

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Awesense Deploys Its Digital Energy Platform To Accelerate V2G, Storage And Microgrid Integration With Northwest Utility.

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VANCOUVER, B.C., Jan. 27, 2021 // Awesense’s technology has been selected as a partner in a project involving the integration of Electric Vehicle charging stations (EVSE), Energy Storage Systems (ESS), and a microgrid controller, to analyze, manage and optimize the use of these technologies in a pilot program focused on building resiliency and reducing costs. 

The goal of the project is to provide a next generation DERMS solution with unparalleled situational awareness and the ability to make decisions and control DER based on real-time grid conditions. The joint solution, developed between Awesense and Doosan GridTech will integrate Awesense’s Digital Energy platform, and Doosan’s DERMS software, DERO.

The microgrid will include Vehicle-to-Grid-enabled EVSE, capable of discharging stored energy from connected EVs back into the grid and provide support during an outage or other events. Located within and outside the microgrid, are utility-owned large scale ESS devices, controllable by the DERMS solution. These devices will also be leveraged to optimize for a set of pre-defined use-case scenarios, from congestion management, to peak load reduction and voltage support. All the use-cases aim to demonstrate the flexibility, scalability and value of DERs in the grid. By demonstrating that by leveraging advanced analytics with data, the grid of the future is not only reliable, resilient, and flexible but also powered by clean renewable energy.

“We are excited to be working with Doosan GridTech, and their award-winning DERO team on this project.” said Mischa Steiner, CEO at Awesense. “Our joint solution will demonstrate the opportunities energy companies have to adopt clean renewable solutions today, and will provide a new generation of grid management.”

“Due to their reputation for advanced integrated analytics, we decided to bring Awesense into this next level upgrade of our premier DERMS platform,” said Troy Nergaard, CEO of Doosan GridTech, “Working with one of the earliest pioneering municipal utilities in developing our original DERMS solution — for this stage, we needed to collaborate with a proven digital agency who can accurately deliver real-time insights and situational awareness across multiple DER grid assets.”

The combination of Awesense’s real-time situational awareness, and DERO’s algorithmic and control capabilities will provide an application suite needed to tackle the expected growth of Distributed Energy being connected to the grid.

Awesense® is an award-winning organization, founded over a decade ago with a mission to help utilities and industrials optimize and decarbonize their systems. Today, Awesense has developed a Digital Energy Platform to address these goals, and has an international team with customers across four continents. The Awesense solution, driven by its powerful data engine and open energy platform, accelerates the transition to the grid of the future.

Doosan GridTech® is a multidisciplined team of power system engineers, software developers and turnkey energy storage specialists. They help electric utilities and other megawatt-scale power producers evaluate, procure, integrate and optimize energy storage, solar power and other DER.

Media Contact

Andrew Yagüe, Business Development


UOC and Awesense, winners of the Tech&Climate challenge to measure and reduce the environmental impact of the technology sector

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  • Measuring the effective use of resources in the cloud and digitalising the use of energy to optimise its efficiency are the solutions that offer the best response to the challenge presented by Digital Future Society with the collaboration of the Commissioner of 2030 Agenda at Barcelona City Council.
  • The call for entries offers the chance to pilot the solution with the support of the Digital Future Society team, a financial contribution for the project and collaborative synergies.

Barcelona, 27 July 2020.- The technological solutions of Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and Awesense (Canada) were crowned winners of the Tech&Climate challenge, convened by Digital Future Society with the collaboration of Barcelona City Council. The initiative, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of technological companies and which has a provision of up to €40,000 per winner, will enable the implementation of both pilot projects in Barcelona with the aim of finding solutions in the digital environment that help the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

The UOC has designed a tool for evaluating the environmental impact of cloud computing, which uses large amounts of energy. This solution measures the effective use of resources in the cloud and calculates the energy expended, which makes it possible to develop energy efficiency policies for optimal consumption. In turn, Awesense presented a software platform for optimising the production and consumption of energy in energy systems. The solution digitalises the use of energy, optimising its efficiency and identifying problems by tracking parameters in real time.

The launch of the call for entries took place in April, the proposals were evaluated during June and over the first few weeks of July the jury selected the winning solutions. In total, 27 projects were received, more than half were international, with solutions proposed from Singapore, Sweden, Brazil, Rwanda and Pakistan. The solutions presented had to be tested and their implementation had to be technically feasible in under 12 months. Also, the tools had to be scaleable and future-proof, foreseeing immediate future scenarios in relation to technological changes and trends.

The jury that participated in the deliberation is comprised of technology and climate emergency specialists: Cristina Colom, director of Digital Future Society (Mobile World Capital Barcelona); Miquel Rodríguez, commissioner of 2030 Agenda at Barcelona City Council; Michael Donaldson, commissioner for Digital Innovation, e-Government and Good Governance at Barcelona City Council; Lluís Torrent, expert in climate change and sustainability; and Júlia López, European regional director of the C40.

The national and international call for entries for technological solutions was managed by the Digital Future Society Lab, which seeks to identify and implement innovative ideas that respond to the challenges of the digital age. The challenges make it possible to connect global players and carry out local initiatives through projects in collaboration with partners from the public and private sector. The solutions implemented are proof of how technology is the means for a fairer and more sustainable society.

This initial Tech&Climate challenge arose out of a collaboration led by Digital Future Society (an initiative backed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, and Mobile World Capital Barcelona), and by Barcelona City Council -through the third tenure, specifically the Commissioner of 2030 Agenda and the Digital Transition department with the collaboration of the municipal Foundation BIT Habitat-.

Opening the doors to digitalization: Awesense partners with Nexxlon & Industriepark Werk Bobingen

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Awesense is delighted to announce that we are integrating the True Geospatial Intelligence (TGI) solution with Industriepark Werk Bobingen (IWB) along with the support from Nexxlon, our partner in Germany to kickstart a pilot project. As the energy transition accelerates, grid operators are now taking on more responsibility as they manage the distribution grid. By utilizing real-time high quality data, we are helping energy and industrial companies better understand their grid and accelerate the expansion of renewables and e-mobility.

While integrating renewables and EVs into behind the meter grids, the Awesense platform will help IWB track their facility’s energy performance, visualize energy flow across the grid and enable a better understanding of where issues are arising. We will be working closely with our client to develop a strategy to digitize and modernize the energy system of the industrial park to help reduce their carbon footprint and work towards their sustainability driven goals. We will create a digital representation of the facility’s electrical model using the TGI data engine, which will ingest data from various data sources to provide a real-time situational view of the network performance of the industrial park. Automated reports and dashboards can be created to better understand how IWB’s facility is performing across the organization with analytics that provide actionable insights to further build their decarbonization strategy. The platform will help IWB determine where gaps exist in sensing and monitoring capabilities so they can be rectified and more closely analyzed. With this recent project, the Awesense platform will be used to optimize the energy system in the industrial park, which has a high peak load, serving many large-scale industrial customers, and our data engine will be core to the facility’s modernization and sustainability goals.

At our core, we believe that digitalization is the first step to decarbonization. Our platform is the digital layer that can help build a digital energy future. Awesense has set itself the goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 100 million tons by 2025. To get there, expanding our market in Germany with highly progressive customers and sustainability goals means we are contributing even further to our mission as a company.

As we expand our business in Europe, Nexxlon has been the ideal partner to help us implement our growth strategy with their strong regional presence and network of highly aggressive companies looking to modernize their energy systems

Karel Dietrich-Nespesny, President and COO of Awesense

With Nexxlon we have opened doors to a new level of digitalization. We are excited to be participating in this energy transition and to help others achieve their modernization goals one facility at a time.

Sensors for the distribution grid: Could we get to a $99 grid sensor and what impact would that have?

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When we began Awesense, the biggest problem that we had was obtaining data. As an industry we’ve had SCADA systems for many decades, and AMI was just starting to be deployed. Now, AMI is has nearly 60% penetration in the United States, but we’ve seen that this does not solve visibility issues across the distribution grid. AMI and SCADA combined still leave a lot of complicated assets between the substation and the residential, commercial, or industrial meter to monitor and understand. Within this area, visibility is virtually non-existent.

Continue reading “Sensors for the distribution grid: Could we get to a $99 grid sensor and what impact would that have?”

Situational Awareness – Value for Utilities

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Tied to resiliency

Solar, smart-inverters, EVs, micro-grids. Bigger, more extreme storms and forest fires. Some of these solutions – some problems in the modern grid. Utilities are now faced with the need to build resilience against an uncertain future. 

Utilities are making lengths to improve infrastructure and operational technologies to deal with these problems. But one thing is often overlooked when looking at resilience – situational awareness. 

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Building a Reliable and Resilient Grid

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The recognized need to build a reliable grid stems from the NERC Reliability Standards. These outline the need to maintain grid reliability (meet demand) and grid security (ensure the capacity to resist unforeseen adversity). In recent years, the concepts of reliability and resiliency are becoming increasingly intertwined. 

Continue reading “Building a Reliable and Resilient Grid”