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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.

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