What is a microgrid?
Microgrids are clusters of energy sources, storage, loads, local networks, and controls organized to deliver a common set of community or campus-based economic, reliability, and environmental objectives while connected to the main grid, or operated as an electrical island, as the community objectives determine.
Horizon is working with a Southern California utility to build the first community microgrid in the nation. This $18M project is co-funded by the utility, the US Department of Energy, the California Energy Commission, and Horizon Energy Group. It is a 4.5MW peak demand community of 500 customers (residential, commercial, and agricultural) with much solar photovoltaic, heavy irrigation, and 1200F summer heat.
The project includes the integration of five technologies:
- Distributed energy resource (including renewables) and VAR management
- Feeder automation system
- Advanced energy storage
- Microgrid controller and outage management / distribution management
- Price-driven load management
This “serial no. 1” microgrid will lead the way for California utilities to meet their obligations of 33% renewable energy in its territory. Because of the variable nature of solar and wind renewables, it will take many microgrids in California to support the reliable introduction of these many variable resources.
A microgrid is much more than a control or dispatch system for distributed generation. The intelligence required in a microgrid goes well beyond matching voltage and frequency. To be successful, a microgrid must:
- Optimize numerous resources operating close to network design capacities
- Balance the community or campus economic, reliability, and environmental objectives.
- Anticipate demand and resource requirements
- Integrate market influences
- Suggest better modes of operation
- Support a much richer energy information environment for consumers and the main grid operations.
Horizon Energy Group staff has worked on microgrid development for over 5 years. Horizon’s microgrid design delivers:
- 15-20% reduction in the annual electric bill
- Smaller total emissions footprint (including CO2)
- Improved reliability (less outages and shorter durations of outages)
- Deep penetration of renewable resources enabling commercial businesses to achieve LEED certification
- Solid return on investment (payback < 5 years)