Along with boosting the overall reliability of electricity distribution, smart microgrid deployment from companies like Anbaric is today proving to be an important smart step in offering solutions for the distribution of renewable energy.
According to the Microgrid Institute, a microgrid is a small energy system capable of balancing captive supply and demand resources to maintain stable service within a defined boundary. Its website provides these important, defining words:
“Microgrids are defined by their function, not their size.”
The existing plethora of US microgrids often take different forms. For example, Princeton University and NYU both have microgrids. These on-site electricity generation sources performed ably during Hurricane Sandy by keeping their respective campuses energized, safeguarding thousands of students and preserving priceless research. Nor are microgrids a new item. Princeton’s campus power station, for example, has operated now for 30 years, reports the Microgrid Institute.
Entrepreneurial opportunities for microgrid operators
Wakefield, Massachusetts-based Anbaric has grown into one of this nation’s microgrid innovators. The company has developed from scratch more than $1.5 billion in independent transmission projects to date. The company outlines its production and distribution strategy as follows:
“A microgrid is centered around a highly efficient, on-site combined heat and power generation (co-gen) plant. Through real-time interface with the surrounding macrogrid, hosts will be empowered to produce or sell energy on a business basis.
“The result is an ecosystem that reduces energy costs, secures resiliency, and integrates sustainable practices and distributed energy technologies. Our vision is not to “island” hosts, but rather to complement and transact with the macrogrid in a way that maximizes long-term economic and environmental value.”
In New York, Anbaric has exclusively partnered with Exelon to develop a series of microgrids ranging in size from 10 to 200 MW. Through this collaboration, these microgrids are expected to “…secure reliability, reduce costs, and improve the efficiency of the surrounding grid.”
Anbaric founder and CEO Ed Krapels explains Anbaric’s commitment to microgrids in New York: “New York State has made clear that it wants to be a national leader in microgrid development … This alliance responds to that call by tailoring our efforts around Governor Cuomo’s energy plan and the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding to create a model for microgrid development that benefits New York residents and businesses.”
SmartGridNews reported this perspective on microgrids from Exelon:
“Exelon’s strategy is to grow and diversify the company through targeted investments in core and adjacent markets and explore promising technologies. This partnership provides Exelon an opportunity to get an early foothold in the emerging microgrids market, building on our existing expertise in distributed generation and our wires business,” said Jeff Yuknis, vice president of Exelon. “Diversification and innovation allow Exelon to take advantage of a broad range of new opportunities, and we plan to deploy our expertise, capital, and resources in New York to unlock the significant benefits that microgrid technology offers.”
This Vimeo video featuring Mr. Krapels provides a sound understanding of Anbaric’s microgrid business.
Understanding microgrids & distributed energy resources
If a microgrid is a localized power system which can be tailored to achieve a host’s specific energy goals, including improved reliability, cost savings, Anbaric microgrids are designed to deploy distributed energy resources (DERs).
In contrast to a central power plant, distributed generation allows for the collection of energy from many sources and may give lower environmental impacts and improved security of supply. Distributed energy, or decentralized energy is generated or stored by a variety of small, grid-connected DERs.
Dirk van Ouwerkerk, lead partner for Anbaric Microgrid, provides this bird’s-eye view, “DERs are what microgrids are made up of. They are the component energy resources that are managed and controlled by the microgrid. DERs can also be installed outside of microgrids, directly on the macrogrid (usually called the bulk electric system or bulk power system). However, the macrogrid has a much harder time when it comes to getting any value out of DERs.”
“We’re really looking at entire sections of the grid and how we can upgrade them to better integrate distributed energy resources using microgrid technology controls,” he said.
Mr. van Ouwerkerk points out that Anbaric has five large microgrids under development in the state of New York, which are exclusively funded by Exelon.
“We’re trying to invest several hundreds of millions of dollars in these microgrids and demonstrate that we can actually derive more power out of distributed energy resources and more services and more value to the grid,” he said.
In the upcoming years, expect to see significant growth in the deployment of microgrids. How that electricity is delivered from these microgrids will become a growing issue of importance. This happens to be an area in which Anbaric specializes. We will report on this next.
Images via Greenline Infrastructure Alliance, Microgrid Institute, Anbaric