Department of Energy, Microgrid Controller Development, Testing and Commercialization

Burns is part of a team selected for a $1.2 million grant to advance the science, technology and commercialization of microgrid control.

Microgrids are expected to be a critical component of the future electric grid by acting as a platform for cleaner, more resilient energy infrastructure that is able to integrate distributed energy resources (including renewable power and energy storage), withstand blackouts and recover quickly from extreme weather events.  The team includes Alstom Grid, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), Philadelphia Water Department and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Microgrids are localized grids, typically connected to the traditional power grid, which can also disconnect to operate autonomously and help mitigate grid disturbances and outages. The Department of Energy currently supports a wide range of microgrid activities, including projects with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to demonstrate that microgrids can maintain reliable and resilient electric power generation and distribution on military installations.

PIDC’s commercial and industrial campus at the Navy Yard, and Philadelphia Water Department’s Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant need to develop solutions to address the considerable growth in Distributed Energy Resources (DER) such as Combined Heat Plan (CHP), Renewables, Distributed Generation (DG), Demand Response (DR) and Storage. These critical community partners are demanding a new class of control systems for achieving enhanced energy resilience of their critical infrastructure operation during adverse conditions; together with carbon emission reduction and optimization of the overall system operation economics through system energy efficiency during normal and emergency operating conditions. Additionally, PIDC anticipates the need to support a new class of commercial agreements with tenants such as URBAN Outfitters, for guaranteed one hundred percent (100%) grid resilience and electric power supply in case of utility outage conditions.

This RD&D project is designed to address the challenges for these two communities, but more importantly will include development of scalable and replicable solutions intended to target a multitude of the nation’s electric distribution communities. This project will research and develop a fully comprehensive Microgrid Controller System consisting of end-to-end functions including microgrid islanding, synchronization and reconnection; protection; voltage, frequency, and power quality management; and dispatch and system resiliency.

Burns and Alstom Grid are currently working together to implement the foundational elements of an advanced microgrid at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia. The new grant will complement the Navy Yard’s Grid Modernization and Smart Energy Campus Program, and will provide research and development support from national laboratories who will use The Navy Yard as a simulation environment to understand the functional requirements and operating features of a microgrid controller. The larger goal is to speed commercialization of microgrid controllers, which enable the integration and optimization of energy assets with the objective to reduce overall energy costs for the microgrid while lowering carbon emissions and providing services to the larger distribution grid.

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Location: Philadelphia, PA
Energy & Utilities
Smart Infrastructure
Client: Department of Energy

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