Energy-as-a-Service Microgrids in the Real World

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Energy leaders like Schneider Electric and Dynamic Energy Networks are partnering to make microgrids more feasible. This final selection from a new special report from Microgrid Knowledge and Schneider Electric offers real-world examples of energy-as-a-service microgrids.

Energy-as-a-Service microgrids

Download the full report.

Two significant players in the microgrid space — Schneider Electric and Dynamic Energy Networks/ The Carlyle Group — have teamed to deliver microgrids and distributed energy resources under the EaaS model.

A global specialist in energy management and automation, Schneider backstops the project’s technical risk through engineering, prescription and lifecycle services.

Dynamic Energy Networks (DEN) develops microgrids on behalf of off-takers in exchange for a long-term energy services contract. DEN is a global independent energy infrastructure investment platform, backed by The Carlyle Group (Carlyle), a global alternative asset manager with $210 billion of assets under management across 335 investment vehicles.

“Together, we aim to transform the market by offering a platform to own and operate microgrids for organizations and institutions that demand more out of energy than they are getting today,” said Schneider’s Mark Feasel, vice president, electric utility segment & smart grid. “We offer the global reach and domain expertise to deliver energy-as-a-service anywhere in the world, and the staying power to deliver the outcomes to which we commit.”

Illustrations of EaaS for microgrids

The Schneider Electric and Dynamic Energy Networks partnership helps organizations tackle large challenges including electrification infrastructure for EVs, long term upgrades and flexibility to include new technology as the market and technology evolves.

Below are two illustrations of EaaS for microgrids in action.

“We offer the global reach and domain expertise to deliver energy-as-a-service anywhere in the world, and the staying power to deliver the outcomes to which we commit.” – Mark Feasel, Schneider Electric

1. Mid-Atlantic municipal complex

A Maryland county began exploring microgrid technology after experiencing extended outages from severe weather. Known for its advanced approach to energy planning, the county saw microgrids as a way to further its sustainability goals

However, like many local governments, the county was trying to manage a capital budget constrained by competing needs.

After seeking bids for a microgrid — and receiving numerous proposals — the county found the answer to its energy problems in Schneider Electric and Duke Energy Renewables EaaS offering.

Making no capital outlay, the county secured not only a microgrid, but also badly needed upgrades to its low and medium voltage gear, all packaged into the monthly EaaS payments.

The project includes a 2-MW solar array, two combined heat and power plants (CHP), advanced microgrid controls and monitoring and advanced cybersecurity. The microgrid can supply power for public safety and correctional facilities should a power outage occur. The 25-year contract also provides for operation and maintenance of the microgrid. As a bonus, the microgrid will reduce the county’s greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Corporate campus near Boston

Schneider decided it was important to test the EaaS concept firsthand. So the company commissioned a microgrid for its corporate headquarters in Andover, Mass. A company team acted as the customer to fully understand that perspective.

The building was a good candidate for a microgrid because it faced rising and uncertain utility rates and an unreliable utility connection that jeopardized its research and development activities.

Management discovered that installing a microgrid would not only resolve these problems but also help it fulfill its public commitment to be carbon neutral by 2020.

The microgrid generates more than 520,000 kWh of electricity per year and includes a 465-kW solar array. The microgrid also incorporates a natural gas generator as an anchor resource.

The building features an Energy Control Center, which connects its distributed energy resources to the microgrid and provides advanced control. The microgrid also incorporates Schneider’s EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor, which leverages connected hardware, software and cloud-based analytics to help the campus procure energy and manage its consumption more efficiently.

Because of the operational efficiencies and other benefits created by the microgrid project, the new infrastructure had little impact on the bills, raising them marginally — less than 5 percent.

The combination of advanced controls and demand-side software allows the microgrid to leverage weather forecast data and other operational site data to optimize energy performance across its solar, energy storage, electric vehicle charging, building HVAC and natural gas generation assets.

energy-as-a-service microgrids

The Schneider Electric and Dynamic Energy Networks partnership helps organizations tackle large challenges including electrification infrastructure for EVs, long term upgrades and flexibility to include new technology as the market and technology evolves. (Photo: Shutterstock/THANIT PKC)

Under a 13-year fixed cost contract, the facility will use solar energy for 50 percent of its energy needs. The microgrid keeps power flowing to crucial areas when the grid fails, improving productivity that is key to the R&D’s facility bottom line.

The company made no capital investment — that was handled by the investment partner, Duke Energy Renewables. The cost of the microgrid, solar and other infrastructure was incorporated into the facility’s monthly energy bill. But because of the operational efficiencies and other benefits created by the microgrid project, the new infrastructure had little impact on the bills, raising them marginally — less than 5 percent while providing resiliency and sustainability benefits.

These projects are just two examples of the facilities that can benefit from EaaS. The approach lends itself to an array of operations: manufacturers, corporate campuses, colleges, hospitals, military facilities, government buildings and others.

The way forward

“Together with Dynamic Energy Networks, Schneider Electric delivers an energy-as-a-service business model that empowers organizations to choose exactly how they will deploy their capital and staff to integrate energy management with their business objectives,” Feasel said.

He added: “Using a balanced scorecard approach, we can deliver a wide array of outcomes, including: no capital outlay, elimination of costs associated with the maintenance and operation of energy assets, tax incentive optimization, access to wholesale market programs, lower energy costs, more predictable energy costs, increased sustainability and better resilience.”

In short, today’s energy megatrends point toward microgrids as the path to smart energy management for businesses, institutions and communities.

This is new territory for many decision-makers. But EaaS offers a way for them to bring the many benefits of microgrids to their organizations while using a familiar, low-risk approach to managing their energy spend. The approach promises to increase microgrid adoption, offering secure, reliable, cost effective and clean electricity to a world that demands energy transformation.

Report series courtesy of Schneider

Catch up on the first four articles in the series below:

For more on Energy-as-a-Service Model microgrids, see the full special report, “The Financial Decision-Makers Guide to Energy-as-a-Service Microgrids,” courtesy of Schneider Electric, downloadable free of charge. 

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