• Joint partnership is a major win for effective, sustainable microgrids
• The Boston One campus integrated system led to reductions of costs and resiliency, even during extended outages
• The partnership has since spawned an even larger microgrid project collaboration
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Comprising interconnected loads and distributed energy resources, a microgrid is an integrated energy system that can be controlled and operated in parallel with the main grid or in an intentional “islanded” mode, with energy supplied only by resources other than the main grid.
Microgrids are inherently resilient so it’s not surprising that customers in many regions worldwide are turning to them to better manage their energy infrastructures.
Europe has led global climate action in recent years, and renewables are gaining traction as a source of electricity generation in the EU. In late 2016, the European Commission proposed the Clean Energy for All Europeans package of measures that aims to help the energy sector become more stable, more sustainable, and more suited to the digital world. Thus, EU consumers could gain better access to competitive, clean energy markets and more ways of making informed choices about their energy usage. Microgrids serve just these aims.
Walking the Talk at Boston One
In Massachusetts, USA, Schneider Electric partnered with North Carolina’s Duke Energy and REC Solar on a joint microgrid project, beginning with an advanced installation at Schneider’s own Boston One campus. The goal of this project was to ensure energy security of large building complexes – and their occupants – in the event of grid failure.
• The technology is built upon microgrid-as-a-service (MaaS) technology, with Schneider Electric providing the hardware and software platforms.
• Duke Energy owns the system and handled financing, and operations agreements.
• REC Solar built the solar array.
Additionally, as part of the MaaS agreement, Duke Energy is selling power to Schneider Electric via a long-term agreement. This partnership allowed Schneider to build the microgrid with no upfront capital.
Thanks to this integrated system, the Boston One campus now enjoys significant reduction in energy cost while delivering sustainable energy and demand-side efficiency. The Boston One microgrid consists of a 354kW solar array containing 1,379 PV modules alongside a natural gas generator, providing an estimated 520,000 kWh of electricity per year.
This hearty setup is fully capable of maintaining power in the event of a grid power loss. In “island mode” it can maintain reliable electrical operation, even during extended outages. Moreover, this project allows everyone involved to see the financial benefits of distributed energy generation, and hopefully help redefine energy cost rate structures.
Because of the positive results from the Boston One implementation, the partners have ventured to build a second, even more ambitious microgrid for the Montgomery County, Maryland Public Safety Headquarters and Correctional Facility.
This project is expected to be operational in 2018, with the expectation of generating approximately 3.3 million kWh of solar power per year.