Microgrids & Resilient Energy
Market Overview: Most solar-energy systems are designed to connect to the utility grid, and cannot stand alone without the grid. When the grid fails, the solar-PV system fails. Microgrids are different, in that they can operate autonomously without the grid, effectively creating their own small grid, an “island” or “microgrid.” Sometimes these projects integrate site generation of electricity from fossil-fuel generators or other sources, and these typically are called “hybrid microgrids.”
There are a variety of reasons to build a microgrid or hybrid project. The two primary reasons are reliability and the ability to manage energy expense spending.
Hurricane Sandy is a good example of driving large regions to want to have greater reliability and autonomy in their energy source. A building or multiple buildings or a community with a stand-alone microgrid or hybrid designed to be highly survivable could be more resilient than a conventional utility grid distribution system.
But we believe the more practical and usual reason will evolve to allow electricity users to control when and how much electricity they take from the utility grid. Time-of-Use pricing is leading to more expensive electricity during the hours when it is most in demand. A microgrid can manage those costs by reducing or effectively shifting utility usage to hours when the cost is lower. This financial driver will likely be as important or more so than reliability for the wider energy market.
There also is a growing market for fully islanded systems that have no utility service. We have engineered and built a number of these systems, both inside and outside the country. These typically are islands or locations that are too far from a utility service provider to have distribution systems.
Illinois Institute of Technology
The Azimuth Energy team has already completed four projects for IIT, and this latest project will build a cutting-edge, DC-AC integrated “nanogrid” research platform serving the Keating Building as well as the campus grid. The project will allow the examination and analysis of equipment and procedures used in hybrid energy systems, as well as research and development...
Missouri University of Science & Technology (MS&T)
The Azimuth team worked with Missouri Science and Technology (MS&T) to plan, engineer, and construct a first-of-its-kind, research test-bed microgrid on the school’s campus. The microgrid manages electricity and hot water energy resources among the four buildings of the Phase-1 project. The microgrid, named the “Solar Village,” provides residential housing for graduate...
St Louis Science Center, “Evie,” the PV-Powered Rolling Classroom
At the other end of the size spectrum from our IIT project, our work at the St Louis Science Center (SLSC) qualifies as the smallest microgrid project on our resume. The SLSC decided to build an electric truck to use as a regional community outreach program, bringing the fundamentals of energy to schools in a fun way. We proposed to SLSC that they electrify the truck...
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