Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore plans to build a "hybrid" microgrid tied to the utility grid to integrate multiple large-scale renewable energy sources, it told the press last week. The microgrid project the first of its kind in Asia, NTU said will be spearheaded by the the school's Energy Research Institute with support from Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) and National Environment Agency (NEA), EDB Executive Director of Cleantech Goh Chee Kiong, told SGT in an interview.
The microgrid is to be located on the Semakau Landfill off the coast of Singapore and the project will include an initial wave of pilots to be built and commissioned by the various firms from 2015-2017. The word "hybrid reflects the plan to test and demo the integration of multiple generation sources solar, wind, tidal-current and diesel generation with energy storage and power-to-gas technologies.
The idea is to make sure such energy sources can run well together, he added, and the system is expected to produce power in the MW range.
The plan is supported by 10 major players in the energy industry, too, he added. The EDB joined the effort, Goh noted, "to attract the leading industry players involved in clean energy generation, energy management and energy storage to participate in this project."
Participants include: Accenture (consulting; Dublin, Ireland), Alstom (utility gear maker; Paris, France), ClassNK (ship classification, Japan), Daily Life Renewable Energy (renewable energy, Singapore), GDF Suez (IOU; Paris, France), Renewable Energy Corporation (solar power, Norway), Schneider Electric (utility gear maker; Paris, France), Trina Solar (solar power equipment maker, Singapore), Varta (energy storage, Germany) and Vestas (wind power generation, Denmark).
"With complementary players to develop and test their solutions in this integrated microgrid 'living lab,' which also is known as the 'Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator Singapore' [REIDS], EDB aims to develop REIDS into a platform for R&D, testing and demonstration of energy solutions that can be scaled up and commercialized in the region," Goh said.
The initial micro-grid infrastructure is expected to cost S$8 million (US$6.4 million) and facilitate the development and commercialization of energy technologies suited for tropical conditions. The initiative is expected to attract S$20 million worth of projects over the next five years, in addition to the initial investment in infrastructure.
The microgrid will help to address crucial local needs both as an off-grid source of energy for isolated communities and as an on-grid form of energy stabilization and outage management, Kiong said.
"Many countries in the region have substantial populations living in [places] that are not connected to the main power grid," he noted. "The need for electrification can be met through the development of microgrids that can serve as independent energy sources for off-grid and island communities.
"Indonesia is aiming to install microgrids that will bring electricity to 90% of its off-grid population by 2025."
The hybrid micro-grid aims to ensure a stable and consistent power supply through the integration of a variety of smart energy management and storage systems.
"These microgrids also can help to stabilize the main power grids and provide energy when there is a power outage in the main system," Goh said. "As microgrids can be isolated and have independent energy sources, they are less vulnerable to problems in the larger system."
The plan is to build the infrastructure first, including storage, solar PV panels and wind turbines to provide a full-scale test-bed for energy research. Next, a tidal energy facility is to be built around the landfill site and St John's Island, which will then be integrated with the first phase.
"Sustainability is one of the major pillars of NTU's research, Kiong said. "We have been very active in clean energy research such as in tidal, solar and wind technologies and this new initiative will allow us to apply our research and integrate the different energy sources.
"We hope that REIDS will serve as a strategic living lab in Singapore to support industry partners in developing, demonstrating and commercializing microgrid and system integration solutions for a diverse range of clean technologies. This will be enabled by a plug-and-play approach for the microgrid which is able to recognize and integrate different clean energy sources that are plugged into it," he added.
"Singapore aims to be a leading hub in Asia for the innovation and commercialization of clean energy technologies. REIDS is a major initiative to help Singapore-based companies export these integrated clean energy solutions," Goh said.
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