ABB Microgrid to Integrate Wind and Solar on Aruba

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Aruba plans to install an ABB microgrid to integrate the island’s renewables, a feat accomplished by a microgrid’s controller or ‘brain.’

Microgrids are increasingly being deployed for this purpose in places, like Aruba, that are striving to make renewables a greater part of their mix.

The Dutch Caribbean island wants to reduce use of fossil fuels and make renewables 50 percent of its mix by 2020. It now relies largely on an oil-fired generation plant, and to a lesser degree wind and solar.

Advanced microgrid intelligence helps balance the variable output of renewable energy. This allows utility grids to overcome the downside of solar and wind energy — they only generate power when the wind blows or sun shines.

The ABB microgrid forecasts both renewable output and system needs over a 24-hour period. The microgrid software then adjusts power dispatch to accommodate changes in renewable output, generation availability and customer demand.

Aruba’s public utility, WEB Aruba, has additional challenges, as well, that make microgrid intelligence valuable.

For example, the island’s demand for energy has been growing. The year-round population, typically 103,000 inhabitants, swells to over 1.5 million with the arrival of tourists. As a result, the island has a significant peak demand for electricity, 134 MW, which can strain the island’s energy resources.

The microgrid’s advanced control system helps reduce the strain through dynamic load shedding. When demand taxes the system, the microgrid calculates what areas of the system are non-essential and reduces flow of power to these sites. So when “major system transients” come into play, the microgrid immediately calculates what load or service to shed to stabilize frequency, according to ABB. It also ensures that no critical facilities lose power.

View this video to learn more about the ABB microgrid in Aruba.

“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.”

ABB has installed about 40 microgrids worldwide, across a diverse range of applications serving remote communities, islands, utilities and industrial campuses.

ABB microgrid

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.