The large-scale PV array near the Fukuoka Prefecture, Miyama
City Hall in Japan. Credit: Google Earth.
Microgrids Because of
The memory of Hurricane
Sandy in the U.S. Northeast
still brings shudders to city
and town administrators
who watched as their citizens
went days, and in some cases
weeks, without power, water,
and heat after the disaster
struck. In all, some 8 million
households in 17 states were
affected by the storm and its
path of destruction. While
some buildings and homeowners had back-up generators powered by diesel, as
the fuel to power them ran
low, anxiety about what could
happen next increased.
To help alleviate some of
the anxiety and bring more
resiliency to municipalities,
Schneider Electric is offering solar-powered microgrids
to those cities and towns that
may want them.
In the town of Fairfeld,
Connecticut, Schneider built a 300-350 k W microgrid that uses
60 k W of combined heat and power, a 47-k W solar photovolta-
ic system and a 300-k W natural gas generator along with a con-
trol and distribution system, energy effciency measures and
on-grid and island modes to bring peace-of-mind that future
storms won’t as heavily impact the town.
Most of the time, the microgrid is connected to the larger grid
but should disaster strike, the police and fre stations, an emergency communications center, a cell phone tower and a public
shelter will remain energized 24/7.
When a power outage cascades through the grid the microgrid
is alerted to electrically separate and protect itself from the disturbance. At that time, it uses its own distributed generation resources to distribute power to the town’s identifed critical facilities.
Fairfeld paid for its microgrid through a $1.1 million grant
from the state of Connecticut and put in $130,000 from its own
coffers to fund the project.
Solar, Storage and Microgrids for the Rest of Us
Peterborough, Miyama and Fairfeld are all early adopters
of new technology — towns that understood its benefts and
then went out and explored funding opportunities, applying
for grants and taking advantage of incentives in order to bring
green energy and resiliency to their municipalities. But grants
and incentives are not intended to fund the whole world’s transition to renewables.
In order to make it more simple for the mainstream market,
Schneider Electric is working on how to make microgrids “mod-
ular, scalable and repeatable,” said
Mark Feasel, Vice President of the Elec-
tric Utility Segment & Smart Grid. Fea-
sel said Schneider believes the technolo-
gy exists today but the “chasm” that has
to be crossed in order to attract more
municipalities is related to business
“The main market is a community
that has some plans around sustainabil-
ity and reliability and they have energy
bills to worry about and need some help
on how to fgure that out.”
To that end, Schneider has deployed