Siemens Infrastructure & Cities and Munich city utility Stadtwerke München (SWM) this April put into operation a virtual power plant (VPP), linking several small-scale distributed energy sources and pooling their resources so they can be operated as a single installation (Figure 1). The project comes on the heels of a February 2012 expansion of a […]
At home and abroad, U.S. military microgrid and smart grid projects are driven by energy security concerns. The pace of such projects, however, can be slow, and the potential for civilian grids to benefit from lessons learned and technologies developed for these important installations may be limited.
Electricity grids are slowly getting smarter. Simultaneously, the use of distributed generation is increasing. Though smart grid advocates tout the ability of a smarter grid to enable greater deployment of distributed resources, the benefits could flow in both directions.
Thule (“Two Lee”) Air Base is a 254–square mile base located in a coastal valley in the northwestern corner of Greenland, within the Arctic Circle. The base, the U.S.’s northernmost military installation, is nestled between mountains and surrounded by icebergs and glaciers as far as the eye can see.
The concept of a smart grid may have been born in the U.S.A., but it’s hitting an adolescent growth spurt just about everywhere else first. Meanwhile, in the U.S., both the regulators and companies that see great potential in a smarter grid are realizing that making substantial smart grid progress will first require making both people and policies smarter. There’s one exception, one piece of the smart grid, that could face fewer obstacles to adoption, and that’s because it offers more obvious and visible benefits to its users: electric vehicles (EVs).
A 9.5-MW gas engine unveiled by GE this October for decentralized, independent power producers in remote, hot, or high-altitude regions features a 48.7% electrical efficiency and promises to reduce lifecycle costs by lowering fuel consumption.
Microturbine technology has evolved from early systems of 30 kW to 70 kW to today’s systems, which can have individual ratings of 200 kW to 250 kW. Packages up to 1 MW are now available that can be assembled into multipac units for projects of 5 MW to 10 MW. These modern units are packaged with integrated digital protection, synchronization, and controls; they produce high combined heat and power efficiencies; and they are capable of using multiple fuels.
The University of California, San Diego has been accumulating awards for its savvy use of a constellation of power generation and energy-saving technologies. The campus already controls a fully functioning microgrid—including a cogeneration plant—and, as befits a research institution, is constantly looking for new ways to make its energy system smarter. This “living laboratory,” as campus leaders like to call it, demonstrates what it takes to build a smarter grid and why the effort is worth it.
“Smart Power Generation at UCSD” explains how the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is maximizing the value of combined heat and power. However, like any other grid-controlling entity large or small, the campus has to match generation and load. Its two Solar Turbines gas turbines operate in baseload mode 24/7 while the cogeneration side of the plant maximizes the value of “waste” heat and electricity that isn’t needed to serve immediate load by generating steam and chilled water for campus heating and cooling.
This summary of results from a recent Platts/Capgemini survey of North American utility executives looks at what respondents had to say about all things related to the smart grid. Nearly half of respondents’ utilities have a smart grid strategy in place, while the other half said their utility has one in development.