US Navy to test connecting microgrids

At three bases in the San Diego, California region, the US Navy is testing their microgrid technologies by connecting them together. This is being undertaken as a way to improve energy supply security and reduce energy consumption.

Kevin Meagher, Power Analytics president and CTO, said in an interview last week that the three microgrids, at the hospital at Naval Base San Diego, a data center at Naval Base Coronado and at Naval Base Point Loma, are now equipped with the on-site generation, solar power, energy storage and grid controls they need.

“The circuits are there; for the most part, all of the hardware is there,” Meagher said. “The trick to doing this is to take the existing circuits, the existing equipment, and figure out how to make it all work to meet the requirements” of the project, which are to provide the “first comprehensive, real-time view of the status of its critical power systems across multiple bases.”

Meagher broke down the project’s imperatives into three broad categories. First, “it clearly presents the opportunity for a cluster of microgrids from an economic perspective,” to do things like “wheel” power from base to base, or to optimize the way the combination of microgrids draws from the grid at certain times, versus relying on their own generation and energy storage capabilities.

Second, "Because of the synchronization of the data, it allows you to talk about enhancing or modifying the structure, either to enhance stability at a specific microgrid, or not, depending on what happens on each of the bases,” he said. In other words, it’s a way to study not just what the cluster can do as presently configured, but how it can be changed to maximize that potential.

“The third thing is the same thing that everyone talks about, but it’s still very near and dear to the Department of Defense -- that’s situational awareness,” he said. In other words, this microgrid cluster is meant to be an “early warning system,” to allow the Navy to predict and prepare for power disruptions, whether they stem from the grid they’re connected to, or from internal changes like routine maintenance of various systems.

The microgrids being used by the Navy, and the rest of the military, are considered a stepping stone for private-sector microgrid adoption and part of a greater standardization of microgrid components. The information gained through these applications will pave the way toward the mass implementation of microgrid systems.

Read more at Green Tech Media.