AESSEAL needed help protecting their operations from power disruptions while driving forward net zero strategies.
Microgrid is the term used to describe a local network of power generation and loads.
To put it simply, a local area (a campus, site, or neighbourhood) that is able to operate independently from the National Grid, because it can generate its own electricity and supply it around the area. A smart microgrid is one that can intelligently manage all of that by itself, using software algorithms to predict and control the multiple power flows.
Another layer of complexity is added because the microgrid is usually connected to the National Grid as well. Balancing the mix of on-site and purchased power against the required loads is essential to ensure that the carbon reduction and cost targets are met. With organisations facing an ‘energy trilemma’ that requires costs, carbon emissions, and security of supply to be effectively balanced, a microgrid offers the ability to solve each of these challenges.
How is a smart microgrid created?
The specific aims of a smart microgrid will determine what elements they feature and how they are managed. Typically, there will be on-site power generation, from solar, wind, or Combined Heat and Power (CHP), and multiple buildings or equipment requiring specific power loads at certain times. With the ability to run independently from the National Grid, a microgrid can protect a site from power disruptions and reduce costs and carbon emissions from electricity use.
Whatever makes up the network of generation and loads, a control system is required to manage the microgrid. A smart microgrid will have a control system capable of automatically monitoring, predicting, and controlling the power flows, deciding when best to generate, store, and use the energy available.
Battery energy storage is an integral part of smart microgrids. These allow energy to be stored for use when most beneficial. Energy generated on site can be fully used or sold back to the grid if not needed at a peak price. For organisations that have invested in CHP, battery energy storage allows the CHP to remain operational without power supply from the grid, providing enough power to keep the site running independently and uninterrupted.
Which sectors benefit most from smart microgrids?
The flexibility offered by microgrids makes them a valuable option to a wide range of organisations, regardless of sector. Even those with relatively low demand and complexity could improve power resilience, reduce energy costs, and enhance efficiency by implementing a microgrid solution.
However, microgrids are most effective on large sites with complex energy flows, such as manufacturers, defence organisations, universities and healthcare providers with large campuses or estates. For organisations that require power resilience as well as reduced carbon emissions and the ability to navigate grid constraints, a microgrid can offer a comprehensive and effective solution.
Get in touch to find out how a Smart Microgrid solution could help your business take control of its energy
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