University of Chester gets microgrid

The new microgrid at the UK's University of Chester will provide a platform for learning.
Published: Tue 18 Jul 2017

ABB’s new microgrid project at the university will use a range of distributed energy resources to show that it's possible to connect or disconnect from a main grid connection and operate in an islanded mode without issues.

The university selected ABB to deploy a high-tech microgrid control system at its new Energy Centre in Thornton Science Park, viewed by many as a major research and innovation hub in England.

The control system, acting as the microgrid’s ‘brain’, includes a CHP unit, diesel generator, solar PV plant, a new energy storage facility and a load bank.

The system will serve the 90,000 square metre site, made up of industrial laboratories, workshops and office space. The aim is to demonstrate how these technologies can work together to cut fuel costs and emissions within a closed grid.

The microgrid controller will manage the Energy Centre’s connection to the campus network and then the connection to the local grid. This will highlight its ability to connect or disconnect seamlessly from the main connection and operate separately, ensuring continuity of supply in the event of an outage.

Industry and academia work together on microgrid

Professor Joe Howe, Executive Director and Professor of the Thornton Energy Research Institute at the University of Chester, said: “The Energy Centre has been created to demonstrate and promote the development of the latest technologies and forms part of a wider energy focus for Thornton Science Park.

“The ABB microgrid control and storage solution is a particularly exciting development that provides a platform for learning and is a great example of industry and academia working together to address real-world issues.” 

Massimo Danieli, Managing Director of ABB’s grid automation business unit, a part of the company’s power grids division, describes the Thornton Science Park microgrid as a “pioneering initiative”.

Microgrid adds value to island’s economy

While the university’s microgrid provides a platform of learning, ABB’s advanced microgrid in the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba will add value to the island’s economy.

The software, automation and control technologies will help WEB Aruba integrate solar and wind energy, forecast and plan better and optimize operations in real-time, while still meeting Aruba’s escalating electricity demand.

The island is 32km long and 10km across its widest point. It has a land area of 179 square km and a population of about 103,000 inhabitants. A popular tourism destination, Aruba has a peak demand of 134MW which is currently met by a mix of thermal, wind and solar photovoltaic generation.

The utility has set a goal to generate 50% of its annual average energy supplied from renewable energy sources and the other half from alternative fuels by 2020. This is in support of the government’s goal to become fossil-fuel free.

The microgrid solution supports the integration of a complex energy generation portfolio and optimises the use of renewable energy, while optimizing operations in real-time.

Using 24 hour forecasts of both renewable output and system load, the system will help plan operations and adjust dispatch in real-time to accommodate changes in renewable output, load or generation availability. This leads to a more automated grid.

At the heart of the solution is an advanced control system with dynamic load shedding capability. When major system transients occur, that the generation and storage are not able to accommodate, the system immediately calculates the minimum load shed required to stabilize frequency. It also ensures the distribution of load shed events so that no critical facilities are impacted.

“This innovative microgrid solution will support the island of WEB Aruba to integrate more renewables and maintain reliability and efficiency of power supplies to meet increasing demand for electricity”, said Massimo Danieli, Head of ABB’s Grid Automation Business, a part of the company’s Power Grids division. “The embedded software, automation and control technologies will also facilitate 24 hour forecasts and enable a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”

Francis Ras, Division Manager Technical Affairs of WEB Aruba, said the solution has enabled the island to achieve its goals through the introduction of new renewable energy and technologies.   Ras added that the solution has also added value to the island’s economy.

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