Microgrid projects backed by NREL

The US Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is providing critical support to two new microgrid projects coordinated by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and General Electric Company (GE).

NREL will test microgrid controllers developed by EPRI and GE using its MW-scale power hardware-in-the-loop capability, which is part of the Energy System Integration Facility (ESIF). EPRI is developing a commercially-viable standardised microgrid controller that can allow a community to provide continuous power for critical loads.

‘Microgrids support a flexible and efficient electric grid, enabling the integration of renewable and distributed energy resources such as wind and solar energy, combined heat and power, energy storage, and demand response,’ NREL’s Associate Director for Energy Systems Integration Bryan Hannegan said, adding: ‘NREL is excited to be working with EPRI and with GE to accelerate the development of microgrids that can provide a reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity supply.’

Standardising functionality will ensure that the controller can be easily adapted for a wide range of electric grid characteristics and allow grid operators to leverage distribution assets to support both autonomous and grid-connected operation.

The Energy Department recently announced its award of more than $8 million for seven microgrid projects – including $1.2 million each for the EPRI and GE projects – to help cities and towns better prepare for extreme weather events and other potential electricity disruptions.

GE will also develop an enhanced microgrid control system to provide resilient, high-quality power delivery to the local community and efficient, reliable grid services.

The program will be closely aligned with the specific energy needs and power resources available in and around Potsdam, New York, with the option to include resources like 3 MW of combined heat and power generators, two MW of photovoltaic generation, 2 MW of energy storage, and 900 kW or more of hydro-electric generation.

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