Reliability and Sustainability: Must They be at Odds?

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Can all microgrids be 100% renewable, 100% reliable and still affordable? It’s a question that dogs the microgrid industry as it strives for low carbon energy production, but also must guarantee the power will not go out in places like hospitals and water plants. Fossil fuel generators often act as backstops at critical facilities.

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By Trueffelpix/Shutterstock.com

This week Microgrid 2021 features a thoughtful and sometimes charged discussion on the topic in a panel: The Green Energy Balancing Act, May 25 at 1 p.m. EST. The issue has come to fore with bans on fossil fuels instituted in some US cities.

Erik Svanholm of S&C Electric summed up the quandary that microgrid companies face: 

“We don’t want to make a bridge fuel a permanent bridge to nowhere. But at the other end of the spectrum, I worry that simply having blanket bans on things like natural gas for everything everywhere starting today essentially is cutting off some of our ability to provide local resilience for energy today.”

Svanholm, who is S&C’s vice president, non-wires alternatives, suggests a more nuanced approach to phasing out natural gas, including the possibility of limiting it to emergency use and setting a cap on the size of new generators, so that they are local and specific to particular facilities.

The panelists, who do not all agree on the way forward, represent the breadth of thought on this tug-of-war issue. 

To listen to the discussion on May 25 and participate in the live Q&A, it’s necessary to register by May 24 for the free virtual conference.

Microgrid 2021 registrants also may watch free replay of all sessions through June 3.

Here is this week’s agenda.

 

May 25, 11 to 12 p.m.

Microgrids as Sustainability Heroes

The story of three microgrids that are helping their hosts reach sustainability or renewable energy goals. How can you employ a microgrid to do the same for you? (Webinar)

Moderator: Jacqueline DeRosa, Vice President, Battery Energy Storage Systems – Ameresco

Presenters:

  • Chris Ball, Senior Manager, Microgrids, Bloom Energy, “Green and Gold Hydrogen Microgrids”
  • Norm Campbell, Manager, Federal Markets, Go Electric, “Remote Microgrids: Maximizing Solar and Removing Diesel Generators”
  • Hugh McDermott, Senior Vice President of Business Development & Sales, ESS, “Going With the Flow: Long-Duration Energy Storage Revolutionizing Patagonia”

 

May 25, 12 to 1 p.m.

Network with Microgrid Solutions Experts

Customize your agenda, check out the Microgrid Resources Library or visit our exhibitor hall where you can meet one-on-one with over 35 microgrid solutions experts.

 

May 25, 12:15 to 1 p.m.

Workshop: Configuring Distributed Generation Resources into an Optimal Microgrid Solution

The demands of our digital economy, coupled with escalating consequences of climate change, are creating greater risks for business owners dependent on reliable electricity. As these challenges increase, it’s clear that outdated utility grids are simply not up to the challenges.

Fortunately, there are multiple options for sourcing electricity. Distributed generation technologies offer a clear path forward for those concerned about stable electricity supply. One solution rapidly gaining acceptance is the microgrid. Microgrids enable businesses to take control of their own specific electricity needs while dramatically improving reliability and, often, reducing costs.

Moderator: Kevin Normandeau, Publisher, Microgrid Knowledge

Presenters:

  • Ryan De La Cruz, Director of Business Development, Ecom-Energy, Inc.
  • Nirupama Prakash Kumar, Sr. Product Manager – Microgrids, Bloom Energy

 

May 25, 1 to 2:15 p.m.

The Green Energy Balancing Act: How Microgrids Steady the Scale

The world is looking for ways to reduce greenhouse gases and increase clean energy. Are these goals being achieved? What stands in the way? Will intermittent resources like wind and solar jeopardize grid reliability? How can microgrids help? (Panel discussion)

Moderator: Matt Roberts, Director of Marketing and Communications, SimpliPhi Power

Panelists

  • Lorraine Akiba, President/CEO, LHA Ventures and former Commissioner, Hawaii PUC
  • Michael Bakas, Executive Vice President, Ameresco
  • Hunter Lovins, President and Founder of Natural Capital Solutions
  • Jason Marenda, Project Manager, DER and Renewables, POWER Engineers
  • Erik Svanholm, Vice President, Non-Wires Alternatives, S&C

 

May 27, 11 to 12 p.m.

Choosing the Right Resources for Your Microgrid

Microgrid Knowledge editors interview the experts: How do you choose the right mix of generation resources for your microgrid? What is the upside and downside of each? What role do they play in your microgrid? A look at renewable energy, fossil fuels, fuel cells, energy storage and electric vehicles within microgrids.

Interviews with:

  • Michael Boswell, Vice President, Distributed Generation Projects, Concord Engineering
  • John Glassmire, Senior Advisor, Grid Edge Solutions, Hitachi ABB Power Grids; and Scott Gibson, Project Manager, Snohomish County PUD
  • Klaus Payrhuber, Strategic Product Development Manager, INNIO Jenbacher
  • Tim Victor, Analyst, Scale Microgrid Solutions

 

May, 12 to 1 p.m.

Network with Microgrid Solutions Experts

Visit the Microgrid Resources Library where you can access dozens of free reports and white papers to help you plan your microgrid strategy or swing by the exhibitor hall and request a 1 on 1 meeting with any of 35+ microgrid solutions experts.

 

May 27, 12:15 to 1 p.m.

Workshop: Using Real-Time Dynamic Modeling for Microgrid Optimization, Control and Resilience

With ongoing weather disruptions and natural disasters coupled with the increasing complexity of power grids and demand for renewable energy sources, power grid infrastructure is facing closer scrutiny. This has presented an opportunity for AI technologies like real-time dynamic modeling to deliver autonomous grid management of grid assets during both normal operations and emergencies.

Moderator: Kevin Normandeau, Publisher, Microgrid Knowledge

Presenters:

  • Sean McEvoy, SVP Business Development, Veritone
  • Ryan Bazler, VP Marketing, aiWARE, Veritone

 

May 27, 1 to 2 p.m.

What’s Next in Microgrid Tech?

Three presentations on technology and engineering innovations that bring greater efficiency, lower emissions or other environmental benefits to microgrids. (Webinar)

Moderator: Kay Aikin, CEO, Dynamic Grid

Presenters:

  • Kevin Chen, Manager, Grid Strategy & Analytics in Smart Grid and Emerging Technology, ComEd, “Advanced Technologies for Resilient and Sustainable Grid”
  • Jaimie Hamilton, Technical Leader, Energy Management Business, Cummins, “Transforming Microgrids with Hydrogen”
  • David Theodore, Co-Founder and CTO, Climate Resilient Internet, “The Internet and Microgrids”

We welcome you to register for these sessions, free of charge, through June 3. Please peruse the agenda and speaker roster. You are welcome to attend all sessions or choose those that most interest you.

Microgrid 2021 is designed for businesses, government agencies, institutions, municipalities and communities — or for anyone interested in learning about how a microgrid will improve their operation.

The event is hosted by Microgrid Knowledge, the world’s largest news site devoted to all things microgrid.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two 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.

Comments

  1. The narrative on a lot of these discussions is skewed towards the utility industry. I have read few articles over the years that lays out succinctly what these proposals mean to the ratepaying end user. Economies of scale, utility solar PV before the Covid-19 isolation and economical interruptions has seen solar PV facilities like those 1GWp projects in the UAE that are around or less than a dollar per watt installed.

    Economies of scale are great for the utility and the wholesale market, but not for the ratepayer. One will probably eventually install a utility scale solar PV farm or wind farm that can generate electricity for $10/MWh or 1 cent/kWh, but the retail ratepayers will always have some tax, tariff, line charge, TD&D or “energy charge” tacked onto each kWh of electricity used. As IOU utilities are allowed to an “assured” return on investment, electricity costs for retail ratepayers will go up while wholesale energy prices will go down. “Lost revenues” and “stranded assets” electricity rate increases will demolish any wholesale energy savings offered by “economies of scale”. this should be part of the truth ratepayers are shown, while considering their own solar PV and energy storage system.