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Types of microgrids

  • There are two main types of Microgrids: Customer or true microgrids and Utility or community microgrids. This document explains the distinction between these two types, and also provides information about two other, less common, types of microgrids.
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Simplified explanation of microgrids including visual

  • What are the basics of a microgrid, and how can it improve grid resiliency and efficiency? Includes a visual and written description of a microgrid.
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General information about microgrids from Sandia

  • Sandia National Laboratories provides a brief description of a microgrid, along with links to key projects and tools relating to microgrids that it is working on. For example: SPIDERS- Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration of Energy Reliability and Security – the nation’s electrical infrastructure is highly vulnerable to disruption- facing threats such as volatile fossil fuel supply and prices, cyber security threats, and weather-related infrastructure damage. SPIDERS aims to tackle these threats by demonstrating a secure microgrid that can maintain 100 percent of its critical load for at least 72 hours after loss of grid power while also integrating renewable energy and improving cybersecurity.
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Case Studies

  • The Bridgeport City Hall Complex Microgrid – It’s Development and Evolution: In-depth analysis of the complexities of the Bridgeport City Hall Complex Microgrid, Project as it evolved under the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) with emphasis on the many challenges faced in the development of a microgrid, including energy use and demand, site peculiarities, regulatory programs and requirements, politics, financing and funding, and lessons learned.
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Explanation of combined heat and power and its benefits

  • Combined Heat and Power facilities are some of the most common components of microgrids today, and for good reason. They produce electrical and thermal energy at the same time using a single source of energy. Their efficiency can range from 60-85%.
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CHP microgrid at NYU

  • NYU’s CHP facility was operational during Hurricane Sandy, at a time when most of the surrounding area was without electricity. The facility produces 13.4 MW of electricity, enough to power to 22 buildings and heat to 37 buildings on campus. NYU has seen $5 to $8 million dollars in yearly savings after the upgraded facility went online in 2011.
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CHP plant and microgrid at Princeton University

  • Princeton University’s original motivation for building their microgrid was to reduce energy costs. The additional energy resiliency and reduced carbon footprint are just some of the welcome by products. The microgrid consists of a 15 MW CHP plant providing electricity, heating, cooling, and chilled water as well as a 4.5 MW solar field further supplementing electricity needs. However, the remarkable aspect of this microgrid is its integration with the local utility using an advanced control system. It allows the microgrid to draw electricity from the grid when utility rates are low, and produce as much electricity locally as possible when utility rates are high. It can also sell excess power to the utility and reduce its reliance on the larger electrical grid when demand is high and the grid is strained.
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MIT’s CHP plant, highlighting the benefits of such a plant

  • MIT is in the process of upgrading its cogeneration facility to reduce emissions and energy costs, while also allowing the campus to island from the regional grid. The improvements reduce the reliance on oil as an energy source and the system will able handle a majority of the campus’ electric capacity.
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Successful examples of CHP integration, including Rutgers, TCNJ, and Trenton

Predictions on the future of electricity distribution, by looking at the past and present

  • Dr. Bob Hebner offers his predictions on the future of the electrical grid using his decades of experience as a government official tasked with helping electric utilities integrate new technologies. The article explains the current conditions that warrant improvements to the electrical grid, such as the aging electrical infrastructure and the emergence of cost-effective natural gas and solar power as sources of electricity. Further, Dr. Hebner emphasizes the importance of microgrids while acknowledging that important factors such as regulatory changes and increased funding will have to be in place for timely adaptation.
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Highly informative article from the New York Times about how NYC currently receives its electricity

  • New York City was home to the first commercial central power plant in the world: the Pearl Street Station designed by Thomas Edison and put into service on September 4, 1882. Since then, New York City’s electricity demands have grown rapidly. This article explains how NYC’s power generation and delivery has evolved to keep up with the increased demand, including the switch from coal to natural gas and nuclear for power generation. It also goes through how the city deals with everyday issues such as dealing with peak demand, finding the most cost-efficient way to produce the electricity, and weather-related threats.
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Definition of microgrid controllers and explanation of how hot and competitive the microgrid controller market is

  • Microgrid controller development is incredibly competitive, as companies ranging from startups to large corporations race to take control of this lucrative business. A Denver-based startup explains the importance of this microgrid component.
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Microcontroller products feature comparison - explanation of DMS and ADMS and purposes of microcontrollers

  • For a microgrid to operate intelligently and efficiently, an advanced microgrid controller is necessary. Many companies are developing their own technologies in this hotly contested market, and while their general purpose is the same, each varies in complexity and features. Since microgrid controller development is so rapid, and the demand for them has been boosted only recently, there is no standard for these vendors to follow. Therefore this report, published in July 2016, compares features of products from 11 vendors, and is a good resource to gain knowledge of which features are most common in microgrid controllers and if there are any specific ones that are of particular interest.
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DER definition (Distributed Energy Resources)

  • DER are an important component in the design and function of a microgrid. They can incorporate cleaner energy production using wind and solar to reduce emissions, while also having the ability to generate power in emergency situations where generators and other fossil-fuel powered electricity generation is offline. Examples of DER include wind turbines and solar panels, but also include energy storage technologies such as battery storage. These technologies are also able to supplement the conventional grid during peak load situations, relieving strain from the system and minimizing peak utility rates.
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Flywheel Energy Storage Systems (FESS)

  • Flywheel energy storage systems are best used in situations that demand high power for short period of times, especially in many cycles. FESS incorporate a spinning rotor made of steel or composite materials in a near-frictionless enclosure that is connected to a motor-generator. Under normal conditions, the rotor spins freely at very high RPM, and is able to couple with the generator to discharge electricity as soon as backup power is needed.
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Financial justification for energy storage by looking at demand charges in certain areas

  • Battery energy storage systems can supply power during instances of peak demand, where demand charges can become costly, thus saving on energy costs. Battery storage is a better alternative to solar installations because it is not weather-dependant and is able to supply power at any time of the day. Many commercial electricity customers are able to subscribe to electricity tariffs that base their rates on electricity usage during times of peak demand, and a separate NREL analysis determined that $15/kW was the threshold beyond where battery installations are financially viable, although many customer-specific factors can influence this threshold rate. This study determined that there are currently over 5 million commercial customers who are eligible for electricity tariffs with demand charge rates of at least $15/kW, which represents more than a quarter of the 18 million commercial customers in the United States.
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NJ Transit Grid - 100+ MW microgrid proposed to power Amtrak Northeast Corridor and NJ Transit Morris and Essex lines

  • Following a $400 million+ grant by the FTA (Federal Transit Administration), NJ Transit, Sandia National Labs, NJ Board of Public Utilities, and the Department of Energy are working together to design a microgrid that would increase reliability of sections of NJ Transit’s Morris and Essex Lines, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Line, and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail System. Hurricane Sandy exposed the system’s vulnerable electricity delivery system, and increasing weather-related threats have prompted the state to respond to these threats.
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Detailed guide on microgrid planning and steps involved in creating a community microgrid

Presentation by Michael Winka, NJ BPU Sr. Policy Advisor

Virtual Microgrids

  • In order to explain CHP using everyday objects, use car engine and heating system as an example using similar principles
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US DOE ICE (Interruption Cost Estimate) calculator

Microgrids.io is an information resource for planning and developing local government microgrids. Microgrids.io is currently maintained and updated by the Center for Building Knowledge at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

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