The University of Genoa in Italy has developed a microgrid, the first of its kind in Europe, on its Savona campus.

Energy Collective reports that the university’s Power Systems Research Team led the project, which entails the use of solar photovoltaic technology and cogeneration, in collaboration with Siemens (the primary contractor) and other industry and power grid partners.

The Savona microgrid is expected to cut campus energy costs by an estimated €50,000 per year, reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 120 tonnes annually, improve operational efficiency, and demonstrate effective control systems and strategies.
University of Genoa
The project entails a combination of both electrical and thermal energy resources, as well as thermal and battery storage. All of this technology is orchestrated by a state-of-the-art microgrid management system.

There is a great deal of interest in the project’s potential for more microgrid solutions as although small in its area covered, all aspects of the technology can be applied in the context of a smart city.

Currently the Savona microgrid encompasses sufficient resources to supply about half of the campus’ current energy needs — and it was designed to accommodate additional resources to eventually power the campus fully.

Rooftop solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar generation form part of the power supplied and the microgrid also includes two newly installed cogeneration units, and small gas turbine originally on the campus was incorporated as well.

Other integrated equipment includes electrochemical battery storage, two existing boilers, and an absorption chiller. There are also two electric vehicle charging units.

The total electrical power installed is equal to about -250 kWe plus 140 kWh of available storage capacity. All additional energy is supplied by the national power grid.

The microgrid’s core is a control system featuring the Siemens Microgrid Manager. It includes an electrical SCADA, a thermal SCADA and a centralized energy management system. Together these systems receive signals and data from the field and communicate with installed devices, through a gateway that uses both wired and wireless connections.

The control system dispatches thermal and electrical generation resources as well as energy exchange with external grid, taking into account contributions from renewable resources and the weather forecast. Forecasting is conducted daily as well as three days in advance. The system adapts in nearly real time (every 15 seconds) to actual weather conditions.

“If actual weather conditions differ from the forecast, the system can immediately optimize microgrid management,” said Federico Delfino, Professor of Power System Engineering at the University of Genoa. “The control system understands that if there’s no sun, it needs to adjust the power being produced. It gives the right set point to the gas turbine to balance the load on campus.”