Advanced Microgrid Accelerates ‘Learning Lab’ at Bubolz Nature Preserve

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The Fox Cities Environmental Learning Center at Bubolz Nature Preserve is known for its commitment to environmental ethics. As early as 1981 Bubolz experimented with solar, wind and geothermal to energize its facilities. Now it features a learning center or “lab” in an 18,000 square foot lodge with a microgrid that uses solar photovoltaics, energy storage, a fuel cell, microturbine and a natural gas generator, according to a new white paper. 

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Download the full report.

The sophisticated microgrid was developed by Schneider Electric and Faith Technologies.

The pair released a report recently that outlined in detail the process, construction and goals of the microgrid and clean energy research and development facility.

The key to this microgrid, according to the new report, is that it offers an opportunity for important research and development.

In other words, it works to demonstrate some of the latest technology and methods for microgrid operations.

According to Schneider Electric, part of the aim for the project it to “pass the knowledge on to the growing clean energy industry and its customers.”

The project also aims to lower energy costs at the nature preserve, which attracts an average 100,000-plus visitors to Appleton, Wisconsin each year.

Bubolz has a goal to achieve net zero energy — the ability to produce more energy than is consumed. The facility is designed to exceed that goal, producing all of the energy it needs and more. Any excess energy can be fed to the central electric grid, creating an opportunity for the advanced microgrid to earn revenue and provide grid stabilization for the larger community. This eliminates electric utility bills, an especially important benefit given the nature preserve’s nonprofit status.

Bubolz can operate with full energy independence or remain connected to the grid, depending on which mode of operation offers the most benefit at any given time.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity and fits well with our mission. Environmental sustainability is what we do. It’s who we are. We specialize in environmental education, and the microgrid brings a whole new dimension to what we can offer,” said Randy Tuma, executive director of Fox Cities Environmental Learning Center at Bubolz Nature Preserve.

Download the new white paper,  “Advanced Microgrid Serves as a Learning Lab,” courtesy of Schneider Electric. The paper explores how an advanced microgrid serves as a learning lab at Bubolz Nature Preserve.

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