S&C Brings Resilience to Fort Belvoir: Case Study

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Federal power systems work to support critical missions at the forefront of national defense operations. And with national security on the line, resilient power is of utmost importance. S&C recently addressed a series of challenges at Fort Belvoir, Va., using its GridMaster Microgrid Control System and Microgrid EPC, products. A new case study explores the project details.

microgrid control

S&C worked to ramp up energy security, as well as demonstrate a cost-effective way to deploy a microgrid without accumulating substantial capital costs. Photo: Courtesy of S&C Electric

Challenge

Todays power grids are plagued with aging infrastructure. And according to the case study, are becoming “a prime target” of foreign actors, physical damage and cyberattacks, which have the potential to down the grid.

That’s why the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) funded research to demonstrate the viability of cybersecure microgrids at military installations.

“The project objective was to create a cybersecure microgrid that would reduce operational costs and sustain critical missions, vetting it as a reliable and resilient solution for military operations and as a replicable model for future DoD installations,” S&C explained. “Because of the increasing vulnerability of power delivery, the microgrid had to include the ability to island from the electrical grid for five days and maintain the islanded grid during times of peak demand.”

S&C worked to ramp up energy security, as well as demonstrate a cost-effective way to deploy a microgrid without accumulating substantial capital costs.

This meant incorporating existing base assets  into the microgrid at US Army Base Fort Belvoir, located in Fairfax County, Va. The assets included three fixed natural gas generators (205-kW, 325-kW, and 375-kW) and four 400-kW mobile diesel generators.

Advanced microgrid solution

S&C began by strategizing how to integrate the base’s existing generation assets into the microgrid and facilitating the microgrid’s utility interconnection. S&C needed to integrate a 2.5-MW microgrid containing two existing diesel and natural gas generators with a secure connection to the local utility.

These would work to power 13 Fort Belvoir buildings of significant or critical status, ensuring resiliency during islanding events.

S&C incorporated its GridMaster Microgrid Control System into the microgrid,  a distributed control system that provides automated, intelligent decision-making coupled with embedded cybersecurity protection.

S&C’s engineers also upgraded the generator control systems with new models that have network connectivity and external communication capabilities, allowing these existing devices to be successfully integrated into the microgrid. S&C engineers added low-voltage contactors to bypass the generators’ existing automatic transfer switches.

When the microgrid operates in island mode, the controller continuously monitors the status of the microgrid’s generation assets, scanning for any unexpected contingencies that may affect the microgrid’s ability to remain islanded.

The microgrid’s capabilities include the automatic dispatch of the generators, curtailing generation based on measured demand, prioritized load-shedding, and handling advanced contingencies, according to the case study.

Result

The project concluded in two microgrid tests over the course of several days, during which the  microgrid successfully islanded from grid power and demonstrated all critical operational objectives.

Overall, the project  demonstrated that existing generation assets, including mobile assets, can be successfully integrated into a microgrid.

“Incorporating the base infrastructure greatly reduced the total cost of the installation. In addition, the base’s mobile diesel generator maintains the capability to be applied for other missions beyond the microgrid at Fort Belvoir,” S&C wrote.

See the full case study, “Mission-Critical Military Base Enhances Power Resiliency with S&C’s Microgrid Control System.”

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