Siemens and University of New Mexico to Update Microgrid

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Siemens and the University of New Mexico (UNM) will soon upgrade the smart grid center in Albuquerque with some of the latest technology for microgrids, electrical generation, power use and storage.


Two UNM graduate students, who are also involved in the NM SMART Grid Center project, working at the Mesa del Sol microgrid site in 2019. Credit: NM EPSCoR/NM SMART Grid Center

A National Science Foundation (NSF) award amendment announcement allows Siemens to design controllers that use today’s technologies, protocols and expertise to operate a next-generation microgrid.

The original NSF award in 2015 brought many organizations together to construct a research project to explore the challenges of converting the state’s electric transmission and distributed energy systems into a SMART (sustainable, modular, adaptive, resilient, and transactive) grid.

The microgrid facilities include a cooling tower, thermal storage tank, battery energy storage system, fuel cell, photovoltaic system and a natural gas generator. The microgrid’s design allows it to operate independently of the primary power grid in an islanded mode.

The microgrid, energized in 2018, operates with controls designed by Japanese utility companies. While the existing microgrid delivers electrical and thermal energy, the current controllers cannot be modified to accommodate today’s various operating modes. 

The new control system will be able to carry out demand response, carbon management and financial optimization. The upgrade will make it easy to communicate between different power centers, buildings, other power loads, new generation, storage clusters and EV charging centers, according to Bill Kipnis, Siemens senior project developer.

The updated controllers also give the microgrid the ability to interface with other smart center microgrids through grid management software.

The collaboration for the smart grid center involves 25 higher education institutions throughout New Mexico, including UNM. The project’s goal is to provide consumers the ability to decide how to generate, store, and manage energy on the existing electricity distribution infrastructure. The center aligns with the New Mexico State Science & Technology Plans focus on technology development to ensure energy stability, security, resilience, and sustainability for the state.  

Join Microgrid Knowledge and Siemens 2 pm ET, October 28 for a free webinar, “The Financial Impacts and Benefits of Dual Nested Microgrids.” 

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