Siemens today announced an education program to train the next generation in microgrid technology at a new nanogrid lab at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico.
The global technology giant announced the program at Microgrid 2017, a gathering of more than 400 energy insiders and their customers.
The college is partnering with Siemens by using its microgrid management software to help teach students at the campus’ new nanogrid lab.
The program will provide students with hands-on training with real-world software technology used by many private and public utilities to operate the nation’s power grid. Such software has become increasingly important to utilities as they manage a growing number of distributed energy resources being added to the grid.
“A recent Department of Energy jobs report found that the U.S. does not have enough skilled workers to fill 1.5 million new energy jobs by 2030, which is why programs like the lab at Santa Fe Community College are essential,” said Mike Carlson, president of Siemens Digital Grid in North America.
Carlson will be among a plenary panel of thought leaders, who will discuss the evolving microgrid market Tuesday, Nov. 7 at Microgrid 2017.
“With this technology, students will get the real-world training necessary to bring our grid further into the 21st century by using the tools that are already helping lead an industry-wide transformation,” Carlson said.
Training in microgrid technology will equip the students with the latest skills to prepare them for energy jobs as the grid becomes increasingly distributed. The energy industry faces a skills gap similar to the talent gap in the manufacturing sector.
“We are achieving the cutting edge with facilities projects that relate to training and education. But we’re also doing things that will help the college improve energy resilience in addition to operating more efficiently and sustainably as an organization. It’s not only an educational program, it’s an inherent fabric of the college.” said Henry Mignardot, executive director for plant operations and maintenance at the college.
Working with Siemens, the college will reduce energy costs while increasing reliability and energy efficiency. The next phase will include a campus-wide microgrid where students will be able to see the real-time data and run simulations on their own.
The program includes a research and teaching nanogrid that will incorporate traditional power generation, photovoltaic solar power, natural gas, and a battery energy storage system that will be installed on the campus next year. Students will be trained on the microgrid controller architecture and build skills around how to optimize certain types of power generation based on specified needs like carbon reduction or as a response to weather conditions.
“Our goal is to have students move on from this program and find good and fulfilling jobs in the future of technology, energy and energy distribution,” said Camilla Bustamante, dean of the School of Trades, Technology, Sustainability and Professional Studies and of the School of Business and Education.
The microgrid technology training center is partially funded through a $351,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The college is leveraging an additional $326,000 in state appropriations, and $111,661 in donated equipment and engineering expertise from Siemens and other industry partners to support this project.
The community college program expands Siemens existing workforce and training efforts in the energy industry. In March, the company unveiled a new Siemens Digital Grid Lab at the University of Central Florida will train the next generation of grid experts using cutting-edge technology, including the MGMS software.
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