Philadelphia Microgrid To Improve Grid Resiliency

The US Department of Energy is supporting a community microgrid demonstration at Philadelphia’s former naval shipyard.
Published: Wed 05 Nov 2014

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In a recent funding round the US Department of Energy awarded Alstom US$1.2 million for the development of a community microgrid at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard – the 1,200 acre former naval shipyard now a modern business campus providing office space to more than 145 companies in the office, industrial and R&D sectors. [Engerati-Microgrid Developments Set To Enhance Grid Resiliency In US]

Alstom will research and design the microgrid system in partnership with the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), which provides water, wastewater and storm water services for greater Philadelphia, and PIDC, Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation, The Navy Yard’s master developer.

Upon completion, portions of the campus will be self-sufficient in generating, managing and storing electricity and will be able to operate independently from the main grid in case of an outage due to extreme weather or other extraordinary events.

Microgrid demonstration

The microgrid research development and system design (RD&D) project will address growth in distributed energy resources such as renewables, distributed generation, demand response and energy storage, while achieving enhanced grid resiliency.

By combining Alstom’s energy management and substation automation technology, the company will provide a comprehensive end-to-end Microgrid Controller System (MGCS) prototype, which includes microgrid islanding, synchronization and reconnection, protection, voltage frequency, power quality management and system resiliency.

“This microgrid demonstration is in line with the DOE’s national objective to improve grid resiliency, reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency, while protecting critical infrastructure,” said Michael Atkinson, president of Alstom Grid North America. “We look forward to advancing this technology platform in collaboration with our partners and the DOE and hope that this project can serve as the catalyst for the future development in communities worldwide.”

Other members of the project implementation team include Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), California Institute of Energy and Environment (CIEE) and Washington State University (WSU) as the R&D partners, and The Burns Group as the construction design engineering partner. PJM and PECO will also serve on the project advisory board, as both PIDC and PWD fall in their territory.

Smart energy master plan

The microgrid forms part of The Navy Yard’s 10-year Energy Master Plan, which was completed last year.

Over  the past decade The Navy Yard has become what PIDC describes as “the Greater Philadelphia region’s preeminent energy and applied sciences hub.” The Smart Energy Campus is a collaboration of businesses, universities and government, focused on making The Navy Yard a national centre for energy research, education and commercialization. The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub, led by Pennsylvania State University, functions with the dual mission of improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings, while promoting regional economic growth and job creation. The Center for Distributed Power is a consortium of organizations focused on solving the challenges of distributed power production and management at scales, ranging from micro-districts to regional grids.

The 10-year Energy Master Plan sets out a plan for deployment of “significant smart grid technologies, with resulting reductions in the need for off-site external energy consumption.” It is organized around five core focus areas – infrastructure improvements, the business plan and tariff structures, Navy Yard stakeholder involvement around distributive generation and energy efficiency, test-bedding opportunities for technology deployment, and carbon footprint reduction.

The smart grid will be implemented in phases. The first phase currently underway is focused on creating a basic grid Networks Operation Centre (NOC) and installing smart metering technology along with a communications network. The advanced metering will support active business-to-grid interactions for demand response and energy market transactions. Tenants will also have the ability to engage directly in monitoring their energy use, and will be able to earn revenue through demand response, supply capacity and ancillary service programs. The second, long-term phase will focus on improving operating economics and system reliability through digital substation and advanced NOC functions.

In addition to addressing the challenges within The Navy Yard relating to its projected energy requirements brought on by the anticipated internal program growth, the Energy Master Plan is expected to provide solutions applicable to similarly-sized economic communities elsewhere in the US.