Tesla Has Over 120 Operational Microgrids Around the World

on October 19, 2020

Tesla has over 120 operational microgrids around the world using its batteries and renewable energy, according to a new comment from an executive.

Ever since the launch of Tesla Energy and its stationary energy storage products, Tesla started working on microgrid projects.

The idea is to have a self-sufficient energy system using self-produced renewable energy stored in batteries and supplying a small community or facility.

After the acquisition of SolarCity, it made even more sense for Tesla to get into the microgrid business since it now had expertise with both batteries and solar power.

The first flagship microgrid project with SolarCity was on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa, where Tesla deployed a microgrid consisting of a 1.4-megawatt solar array and a 6-megawatt hour energy storage system with 60 Tesla Powerpacks:

The microgrid saved the nearly 600 residents of the island more than 100,000 gallons of fuel per year previously used to supply them with electricity.

Tesla has kept deploying microgrids since, and we now learn that the company has over 120 of them in operations around the world.

Michael Snyder, director of engineering and construction, energy projects at Tesla, released the information in a Linkedin post about a new position on the microgrid team:

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsTesla Has Over 120 Operational Microgrids Around the World

The Innovations and Organisations Behind Two US Microgrids

on October 16, 2020

As renewable energy generation grows, electricity grids have needed to adapt. Increasingly, smaller-scale generation has allowed communities to set up their own small electricity networks, called microgrids. These promise secure energy supplies, as well as an opportunity for people to invest in their own energy future.

In the US, this can mean less risk exposure to sever weather events, when utilities could take a long time to reach remote communities.

Boston suburb develops ‘microgrid without borders’
The Chelsea suburb of Boston, Massachusetts, has developed a ‘microgrid without borders’ for residents and businesses to opt in to. While Massachusetts rarely faces the full force of hurricanes, towns in storm prone areas of the US have increasingly considered microgrids as a way to ensure power stability.

Maria Belen Power, member of environmental group Green Roots, told Frank News that residents were struck by what they saw during Hurricane Maria in 2017. “It became clear that [the idea of a microgrid] connected with residents because of Hurricane Maria, and it became an opportunity for us to think: ‘How do we do things differently?’.

“What would it look like if Hurricane Maria had hit Chelsea, and how could we be better prepared to deal with a disaster like that and the energy infrastructure that’s not set up to sustain that?”

The microgrid runs in existing grid power cables, but users manage their energy supply using software. Outside of this, there are no extra physical cable connections.

The microgrid would use natural gas generation, along with a battery facility and, if possible, solar panels. The planned battery facility would allow the city to move away from the diesel generators it currently relies upon in emergencies.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsThe Innovations and Organisations Behind Two US Microgrids

Ikea Adelaide Solar and Battery Microgrid First Big Step to 100% Onsite Solar Power

on October 16, 2020

Swedish furniture giant and sometimes rooftop PV retailer Ikea is about to begin work on an industry-leading, grid-connected commercial solar and battery microgrid based on its Adelaide store.

The project, flagged by Ikea Australia in June at the launch of its Solstråle residential solar offering, is being developed in conjunction with Planet Ark Power, the South Australian government, SA Power Networks and Epic Energy.

The $6.6 million first stage of the microgrid, which will be owned and operated by Epic Energy, will install 1.2MW of solar on the rooftop of Ikea Adelaide and a 3MW/3.4MWh OilPower CATL lithium-ion battery storage system, also installed on-site in three 40 foot containers.

The solar and storage system will be managed through a combination of Schneider Electrics’ smart energy management software and, on the grid-connected side, Planet Ark Power’s award-winning eleXsys dynamic voltage control platform, the hardware for which will be housed in an additional 20 foot container.

For Ikea, the 3024 Q-Cell PV panels and battery storage will – at the end of stage one mid-way through next year – provide more than 70 per cent of the store’s electricity needs, which will be delivered via a power purchase agreement with Epic Energy.

But the project also gives the furniture giant some serious green cred – on top of having already met its company-wide target to produce and procure more renewable energy than it consumes by this year, 2020.

“Collaborations like this have always been a cornerstone of the Ikea way – this is more important now than ever in order to tackle the climate crisis,” said the global head of climate and energy for Ingka Group, Karol Gobczyński.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsIkea Adelaide Solar and Battery Microgrid First Big Step to 100% Onsite Solar Power

Fluence Acquires Advanced Microgrids AI-Software, Digital Platform For Energy Storage

on October 15, 2020

Energy storage joint venture Fluence is acquiring a microgrid software and digital intelligence platform.

The acquisition of Advanced Microgrid Solutions’ artificial intelligence-driven software and digital platform for renewables and energy storage will extend the company’s product line, Fluence said in a release.

“Our century-old power system is stressed. Renewable energy and energy storage are the solution,” said Brett Galura, chief technology officer at Fluence. “AMS has developed one of the most powerful AI-enabled software engines available in the industry. This acquisition provides customers with data-driven insights that maximize the value and performance of generation and storage assets to make the entire grid smarter. These innovations will drive the transformation of global electric power systems to ensure a more sustainable future.”

The acquisition follows a two-year partnership between Fluence and AMS. Fluence itself was created as an energy storage joint venture between AES and Siemens several years ago.

By joining the Fluence team, AMS will leverage Fluence’s global sales reach to make its software available to more customers around the world.

“We are incredibly excited to join the team at Fluence. Customers are building larger fleets of energy storage and flexible generation assets, while at the same time wholesale markets are becoming more complex and volatile,” said Seyed Madaeni, chief executive officer at AMS. “We have a unique opportunity to lead the clean energy revolution by using AI to optimize the dispatch of flexible assets, maximize their value and make the entire electric power system more responsive, reliable and resilient. As part of the Fluence team, we will have the capabilities and resources to accelerate the global expansion of our software.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFluence Acquires Advanced Microgrids AI-Software, Digital Platform For Energy Storage

Eos Energy Storage to Supply Zinc Batteries to Verdant Microgrid Installations

on October 9, 2020

Eos Energy Storage LLC (“Eos”), a leading manufacturer of safe, low-cost and long-duration zinc battery storage systems, today announced a partnership with Verdant Microgrid (“Verdant”), a custom microgrid solution provider. Eos will supply its Znyth™ Zinc Hybrid Cathode Technology, the core of its Aurora™ stationary energy storage system, to Verdant’s California-based microgrids beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020.

As previously announced, B. Riley Principal Merger Corp. II (“BMRG”), a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company, and Eos have entered into a definitive merger agreement for a business combination that would result in Eos becoming a publicly listed company. Upon closing of the transaction, the combined company will be renamed Eos Energy Enterprises, Inc. (“Eos Energy”) and intends to list its shares of common stock on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “EOSE”.

The Eos battery features a 100% depth of discharge and a wide operating temperature range to enable deployment without the use of costly thermal management measures such as HVAC cooling systems and fire suppression systems. The Znyth™ technology requires just five core commodity materials that are derived from non-rare earth and non-conflict minerals which are commercially available and scalable. The technology is also patent protected and made in the United States.

A microgrid is a self-sufficient energy system that generates power in close proximity to the area it serves. These systems are considered to be more efficient and cost effective than central grids because they do not lose as much electricity in transit and they strategically pull energy from various sources, such as the central grid or a battery, depending on the local demand for electricity at any given time.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsEos Energy Storage to Supply Zinc Batteries to Verdant Microgrid Installations

‘There Has Never Been a Better Time For Hybrid Microgrids’

on October 8, 2020

Australia’s well-known grid congestion issues and associated federal government negligence dominate the headlines, but in the smaller-scale, microgrid, and off-grid frontiers of the renewable energy transition, there is a new solution-oriented approach. And as Aggreko and Gold Fields have demonstrated, it is paving a solar-panel-bricked-road to a renewably powered resource sector.

pv magazine AustraliaAggreko and Gold Fields are nearing completion on what is certainly one of Australia’s largest hybridized solar energy microgridsat the Granny Smith gold mine in Western Australia. Just how large is this hybrid power system and how is it integrating with the mine’s existing gas fired power station?

Karim Wazni: This is one of the world’s largest renewable energy microgrids. The system itself comprises more than 23,000 individual solar PV panels, offering 7.7 MWp of solar power generation. The PV elements of the solution will be seamlessly integrated with the existing 27.3 MW power station, which utilises high-efficiency, reciprocating gas fuelled engines. This is all supported by a 2 MW/1 MWh battery system which delivers peak power and helps providing consistency and reliability of power supply for the mine. This new system will be seamlessly integrated with the existing power station via the use of Aggreko’s control software platform.

pv magazine Australia: The mining industry is a big consumer of energy, and thus a big producer of emissions (6.2% of global emissions). However, the mining industry worldwide is beginning to realize that energizing its operations with renewables is simply a good investment. What role can Aggreko specifically, but also microgrids and energy storage generally, perform in transitioning the mining industry to clean energy?

Wazni: We see our role as a partner for mine operators to support them on their journey to a decarbonized future. As a provider of temporary power solutions and energy services, Aggreko’s offering, especially our hybrid power plants, we support those with green ambitions. We are experts in combining the reliability of thermal generation with all the benefits that come with new technologies like solar power and battery storage systems, including greater efficiency, lower costs of energy and of course lower emissions.

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Fractal Energy Storage Consultants‘There Has Never Been a Better Time For Hybrid Microgrids’

POWERGEN+ Flashback: Caterpillar in Deal For Largest Single-Site Microgrid in UAE

on October 5, 2020

Caterpillar is to deliver the largest single-site microgrid in the UAE.

UAE agricultural company Themar Al Emarat has selected Cat dealer Al-Bahar to supply a 5.94 MW solar-hybrid energy solution to a new farming facility in Sharjah.

The system will provide power for cooling equipment, water chilling, mushroom cultivation and other greenhouse processes in the facility, which will produce mushrooms, lettuce and other crops used and consumed locally.

The climate-controlled greenhouse operation will utilize nearly 23,000 solar photovoltaic modules that generate up to 2.7 MW of solar-powered energy, plus five Cat 3412 diesel generator sets that will supply 3.24 MW of power.

The system will be supported by a 286 kWh/250 kW grid stability module supplied by an energy storage system and bidirectional inverters.

A microgrid controller will autonomously manage the entire system and use Cat Connect Remote Asset Monitoring for the real-time collection and off-site monitoring of system performance data.

“Energy consumption accounts for the majority of long-term operating costs for technologically advanced agricultural farms that use climate control systems to support production during the summer in the UAE,” said Dr Ghanem Al Hajri, chief executive officer of Themar Al Emarat, which speacializes in hydroponic farming – crop production without soil.[Native Advertisement]

“By leveraging Al-Bahar’s and Caterpillar’s global expertise in power generation technologies, we have been able to specify and design a customized power solution that helps to make our operations economically viable.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsPOWERGEN+ Flashback: Caterpillar in Deal For Largest Single-Site Microgrid in UAE

Financial Models That Will Get You That On-Site Microgrid

on September 30, 2020

I’ve written about my high hopes for microgrids and my disappointment at the speed of deployment (due in part to COVID-related slowdowns that stalled construction). 

But don’t be confused. Like a swimming duck, a lot has been happening with microgrids under the surface.

New third-party financing options for microgrids in which the energy offtaker does not own or maintain the asset — known as energy-as-a-service (EaaS) or microgrids-as-a-service (MaaS) — are making microgrids accessible to small businesses with small energy loads, according to a new report from Wood Mackenzie.

While not a new structure (EaaS has been around for the better part of a decade), the research shows the market is maturing. Increasingly, financers are investing in small-scale microgrids that are less than 5 megawatts, a size better suited for on-site power generation for, say, medium to large commercial buildings or a mid-sized industrial facility. 

This is kind of a big deal, as financial innovations are as important as technological innovations for clean energy technologies to proliferate. Solar is the classic example; it took off once people could get it without upfront costs. 

Here are three forces that, together, finally could get you that microgrid you’ve been eyeing. 

1. Microgrid portfolios are opening up new financing models

Once upon a time, microgrids were bespoke and built on a project-by-project basis. That required legwork by financers to assess the technology risk and business models, which only made sense if the projects were bigger — say, 10-20 MW minimum. 

Increasingly, microgrid service providers are selling a portfolio of microgrids — that is, deploying multiple microgrids with similar (if not identical) components at different locations. The homogenization of the microgrid technologies allows investors to streamline due diligence and finance the portfolio in aggregate.

Examples include projects at Stop & Shop, which recently announced it will install microgrids at 40 of its grocery stores in Massachusetts using Bloom Energy fuel cells, and H-E-B, which plans to install microgrids at 45 locations in Texas through Enchanted Rock.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFinancial Models That Will Get You That On-Site Microgrid

Microgrid Optimization: Buzzword or Must Have?

on September 28, 2020

Just a few years ago, microgrids were simple.  A diesel generator sat for long periods until a facility manager manually disconnected the site from the grid.  The generator ran until the power came back on or the fuel supply ran out.  All in all, managers faced a limited number of decisions when it came to managing a microgrid.

Now, microgrids are much more complicated.  They often have multiple generation sources, battery storage systems, controllable energy consumption devices and have live connections to the grid. It has become essential for microgrids to be intuitive when it comes to knowing what to do and when.  This helps ensure the best outcome for the lowest cost.

Here is where optimization comes in. Granted, some think optimization is a buzzword, created to sound impressive without any specificity. The fact is understanding the values of various types of optimization helps ensure microgrid owners meet their goals. Optimization automates the best results for a system, considering its site-specific limitations. Optimization is made up primarily of four core concepts:

  1. Objective function: It defines the objective of the solution. For example, the objective could be to minimize the cost for supplying load. How the control variables influence that cost must be known
  2. Control Variables: These are the levers you can use to achieve your objective. For microgrid operations, typical control variables are power output of generating/storage units or load connection statuses, etc.
  3. Constraints: Constraints address the laws of physics such as generation output cannot be outside of the operating range of the generating unit or the load must exactly match the generation
  4. Model: The optimization works on a model, where the model defines number of entities (DERs) participating in the optimization, the constraints, the relationship of the control variables to the objective function etc.

A technique that strictly adheres to these principles and method of solving a problem is referred to as “optimization”. The optimization “engine” finds the optimal values for the control variables that result in achieving the objective while respecting the constraints.

Here are some good starting points for anyone interested in optimizing a new microgrid project.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsMicrogrid Optimization: Buzzword or Must Have?

The Benefits of Intelligently Controlled Solar Plus Storage Microgrids

on September 21, 2020

Solar energy has gained traction in the energy market, altering the load profiles that utilities have to satisfy. This is forcing them to adapt and evolve. Increasing solar generation in the afternoon is offsetting the high demand during those hours. Load continues to surge into the evening when solar generation is no longer available, exacerbating the rise.

Utilities are changing their pricing structures to cope with these variations, which is where storage comes into play. As peak price hours shift later into the day, when solar generation is unavailable, storage can be used to capitalize on the potential benefits. We’re entering a more sophisticated utility environment that no longer rewards solar only installations; adding storage is becoming necessary to make microgrids more economically viable.

It would be naive to believe that utilities will not continue making adjustments in the future. They will endeavor to stay ahead of the renewables curve, and customers are getting smarter about gaining an economic advantage from the utility rates. Using intelligent controls rather than scheduled controls is one way to achieve this. With ‘set it and forget it’ scheduled controls, a battery is set to charge before the known high rate time period, and set to discharge during that expensive period. When the utility changes that window, those settings have to be changed on every microgrid, or economic opportunities will be missed.

Self-modifying intelligent controls
Intelligent controls, on the other hand, modify themselves under changing conditions. The controls can allocate energy, or decide when to discharge the battery and by how much, in response to changes in the utility rate structure. Thresholds can be automatically altered based on assessments of demand changes, and the system can respond to live weather data, for example carefully managing the energy stored in a battery if an increase in cloud cover is predicted.

At CleanSpark, intelligent controls are applied for an off-grid microgrid in the deserts of California. The goal is to minimize the use of the rented diesel generator, to reduce cost. The facility is in the growth phase, so the site has been modeled to understand the most appropriate sizes for future diesel generation, solar and storage. Real time controls balance the load, solar, and storage to reduce the running of the generator. As a result, the generator did not run during the second half of August, saving an enormous amount of money.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsThe Benefits of Intelligently Controlled Solar Plus Storage Microgrids