Microgrids: The Way of the Future?

Operators at the White Oak Federal Research Center must monitor all points of the microgrid from the Central Utility Plant to balance utility grid disturbances with on-site generation. The campus is equipped with a 5.8 mW dual-fuel reciprocating engine generator, among other energy sources.

What would it mean to your business if you could eliminate the risk of blackouts or insufficient power quality, produce on-site generation with fewer regulations, lower your utility bill, and create revenue by selling excess energy?

Welcome to the microgrid. Drawing on the flexibility of the smart grid concept, a microgrid allows a group of buildings to work in tandem with the utility grid but operate independently at will.

???Microgrids are small-scale versions of the centralized electricity system. They achieve specific local goals established by the community being served, such as reliability, carbon emission reduction, diversification of energy sources, and cost reduction,??? explains the white paper

In addition to energy independence from the larger grid, microgrids also allow waste energy to be reclaimed and put to beneficial uses, such as hot water and/or steam to be used by the local community. The University of Texas at Austin is now 80 to 90% energy efficient because of that, where a typical energy provider may only be 30% efficient.

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About Matthew Peterworth

I currently work as a Technology Specialist at Henderson Engineers in Kansas City – a Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing (MEP) design firm. Prior to that I was a Project Manager for Information Technology Services (ITS), the central IT department at the University of Texas at Austin. As of July 2008 I am a Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD) through BICSI. And as of June 2011 I am a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) in the great state of Texas. Please follow me on Twitter @mpeterworth. https://twitter.com/mpeterworth

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