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Is a Microgrid Feasible on Your Site? How to Know for Sure Before You Commit

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Smart microgrids have the potential to dramatically overhaul your power resilience, as well as how you source and use electricity. Properly implemented, a smart microgrid gives your site the ability to run independent from your grid connection indefinitely.

However, achieving this requires a complex combination of both storage and generation technology, as well as intelligent control software that is able to monitor and optimise power flows in real time. Improper planning and implementation risks your microgrid failing to deliver as expected, or even compromising the power resilience of your site.

THE GROWTH OF MICROGRIDS

Globally, the microgrid sector is expected to nearly double over a five-year period, growing from £16.5bn in 2018 to over £29bn by 2023. Historically, microgrids have been associated with remote locations that require the power supply but are unable to connect to the wider grid. The changing priorities of many businesses when it comes to managing their energy, however, has seen rapid growth for smart microgrid technologies across a broad range of sectors and locations.

While microgrids offer benefits across a range of different energy management objectives, the primary draw is that they give an organisation much more control over their power, providing greater certainty and control of energy costs and related risks. With a fully-functioning microgrid, a site is protected from the wider issues that are increasingly impacting on the energy sector and end users. This includes volatile and currently rapidly increasing energy costs, as well as a growing risk of grid disruption that could see your site suffer major power outages or other forms of disruption. With an effective smart microgrid in place, on-site generation and battery storage is able to meet your site’s overall power needs, meaning you are no longer dependent on changing wholesale power prices or a reliable grid supply.

Alongside delivering greater resilience and flexibility, a number of other factors continue to drive the uptake of microgrids. They typically offer a significant reduction in your Scope 2 emissions, those associated with how the power you use is generated. By using cleaner, on-site generation technologies rather than grid, that still frequently relies on gas generation, you can eliminate a large portion of your overall carbon footprint. As more technologies are developed, including distributed generation, energy storage, automation and controls, these options become increasingly cost-effective and able to deliver better results using a holistic, site-wide approach.

Ensuring Your Microgrid Delivers 

While microgrids offer significant benefits, they are complex projects that must factor in a wide range of different technologies, requirements, power flows and changing customer priorities. Each smart microgrid needs to be a bespoke project tailored for an individual site, using different mixes of technology and techniques to deliver the required benefits.

The complex nature of microgrids means that once implemented, different internal and external factors can work together to compromise the whole system, potentially increasing energy costs or resulting in power disruption. For energy-intensive sites that manage multiple processes and power flows, it can be difficult to foresee potential problems that may only occur given a very specific set of circumstances.

Using modelling and simulation technology is one way to ensure that your microgrid project operates as intended. The use of Digital Twin technology has a wide range of applications, but in this case, it allows your entire site, and proposed power infrastructure solution, to be recreated in a digital space. This allows the system to be robustly tested, using a broad range of different internal and external factors, to ensure that it will operate as intended at all times.

By using a digital twin, you can test your proposed microgrid project well before any installation work begins. This not only delivers a more efficient, reliable solution, but also prevents the risk of additional work being needed further down the line to address issues with the system that were overlooked during commission. Such testing can also be used as proof of concept to any internal and external stakeholders.

Contact us to find out more about our simulation and digital modelling capabilities

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