DOEs Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has a microgrid sitting in its Distributed Energy Control and Communications (DECC) lab. The reason? To simulate situations where a microgrid would be used so researchers can work on how to standardize real-world microgrids so they are compatible with the main grid and other microgrids.
Microgrids are not widely deployed yet, ORNL researcher Yan Xu was quoted as saying in a Phys.Org article Today, functional microgrids are in the R&D phase, and their communications are not standardized. We want to standardize microgrid communications and systems so they are compatible with the main grid and each other.
The labs microgrid has a total generation capacity of about 250 kilowatts that can easily switch from being grid-connected to off-grid. It also includes energy storage that provides 25 kilowatts of power, second-use EV batteries, a solar system and other technologies.
The microgrid is subjected to sudden load changes that would occur when power from the grid is being used.
It has taken two years of work, but the ORNL microgrid test bed is now functioning and incorporates an algorithm that determines whether it is on or off the labs main grid.
Xu said the focus for the next year will be on a working energy management system that will allow the microgrid to change how it operates to accommodate changes in demand, cost and other areas. the EMS may, for instance, tell the solar PVs how much power to generate for the next five to 10 minutes based on the time of day and energy demand, Xu explained.
As soon as microgrids are standardized and easy to integrate into the main grid, well start seeing them in areas with a high penetration of renewables and high energy prices.
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